Exercise, Anxiety and Personal Identity
How physical activity helped Kate overcome difficult hurdles.
Date: 25 June 2020 Author: Energise Me
Life changes such as starting a new job can be a busy time. Charlotte talks to us about how she increased her activity levels by saying yes to something new and scary!
Starting a new job had a massive impact on my routine and activity levels. I was walking 15 minutes to and from work which did help me feel refreshed, but that’s as energetic as I got! I wanted to do some more vigorous exercise but found it difficult to make this part of my new routine.
When the people in my office asked if anyone wanted to run “The Great South Run” as part of a work team, I ignored them; I immediately wrote it off as something that really wasn’t for me!
The more I thought about it though, the more I realised this might be a great opportunity to get back to some more vigorous exercise – plus I’m terrible at feeling like I’m missing out on something that other people are enthusiastic about – so I just said yes!
Only afterwards did I realise the gravity of my yes – I was actually going to have to do this! Once I got over my initial fear of what I’d signed myself up for, I felt motivated to start training. I went on a few runs with colleagues and started going to an athletics club because I find it difficult to run on my own. Everyone was so supportive despite me being slower than them. I was loving it!
...overall I found it far too easy to avoid doing anything at all.
After 3 weeks of training, I started to get a stabbing pain in my shin. I was told that I’d done too much too quickly and that I should stop running until my leg stopped hurting. There were only 3 weeks left and I’d only ever run about half the distance of the event! I panicked.
I stopped running altogether and felt really down about it. It hurt to walk, so I couldn’t think of how I could exercise comfortably. I went swimming a couple of times which was a brilliant alternative, but overall I found it far too easy to avoid doing anything at all. With the event fast approaching, I started feeling more and more irritated and demotivated.
I jogged a bit then walked a bit then jogged a bit more, taking in the sights and sounds of runners, walkers and supporters.
Then I came to an important realisation… I was doing this for enjoyment. I’m not an Olympic athlete aiming for a record time. I was doing this for the experience, to show support for my colleagues and to feel good about myself. As much as I’d have loved to keep up my training, my legs just needed to rest and that’s okay.
Thankfully, my legs were okay by the time the event day arrived, I took part in the Great South Run and loved it. My legs felt much better after being rested, and I continued to listen to them during the event. I jogged a bit then walked a bit then jogged a bit more, taking in the sights and sounds of runners, walkers and supporters. I had an incredible day and enjoyed it much more because I wasn’t putting too much pressure on myself (or my legs).
Take it easy when you first start something new, introduce it into your routine slowly.
If you do get injured, listen to your body and don’t feel down on yourself for it!
Don’t be put off by words like run or race!
You can walk a Parkrun, you can do a Race for Life as slowly as you want to.
If you get enjoyment out of racing and achieving a personal best, that’s amazing. But if, like me, you prefer to put less pressure on yourself, that’s brilliant too. Do what makes you happy!
Look after yourself – if you haven’t done much training for an event, take it very easy and ensure it is still safe for you to participate.