A brush with injury and a couple of weeks of reflection

I’m not complaining. I’ve been really lucky with injuries since I started running just over eighteen months ago. All I’ve really had to deal with was a minor hamstring strain that affected me for a few weeks last summer. It didn’t really stop me running so it was a bit of a shock to get a foot injury after completing Brighton Marathon a couple of weeks ago.

The foot has been very painful and running has been completely out of the question until the last couple of days. It still isn’t a serious injury but it has caused me a fair bit of worry because I need to be fit to run Stratford Shakespeare Half Marathon and Worcester Half Marathon in May. I’ve been very anxious about the possibility of not running these races. It means a lot to me every time I get the chance to run in a race and wear my Mind running shirt to raise awareness of mental health. I really don’t want to miss two great chances to do this again.

The injury has given me some time to reflect on Brighton Marathon and I’ve realised again just how important exercise and running are for me and my mental health. Not being able to run has been really tough and not knowing how quickly I’ll be able to get going again has certainly been a bit of an anxiety trigger. I’ve felt those early signs that I recognise as being the start of anxiety starting to get to me – my sleep patterns have been disrupted and I’ve had a few days where I’ve just felt very on edge.

This is where my own self-talk becomes absolutely crucial. In the past, signs of anxiety could lead to very negative thinking but these days I try to switch my thinking and stay in the moment, rather than letting my mind go in the direction of thinking about the absolute worst things that could happen. The achievement of running Brighton has been vital to staying positive, particularly getting through the last six miles where I had to draw on all my courage, determination and self belief to get through. It was a battle with myself that I had to win to get to that finish line. I’ve kept my medal close to me since to remind me that I got there in the end. Reading the stories of other Mind runners who completed Brighton and London on our team Facebook group has been really helpful too. There are some truly inspirational people out there.

For now, the anxiety has fallen away again but it is a reminder that I can’t take it for granted that I’m free of mental illness. I do feel I have some power over it now which I’ve never had before and running and exercise are a vital part of that. I now see that my foot injury has been more of a nuisance than the sort of injury that will affect me long term. I’m determined to run those two half marathons. I will be out there wearing my Mind vest.

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