Couch to 5k

an x-ray of my right leg showing extensive metal work after a climbing fall

Yesterday I did my first run in the Couch to 5K training programme. As someone who has run several half marathons and a couple of marathons this felt a bit weird, the photo above explains why I am where I am. I'm generally fairly active but the last 8 months have seen a drastic reduction in those activities while I recovered from a climbing fall and the subsequent injury and surgery. I've signed up to do a sprint triathlon at the end of May which involves a 5km run. Given that a few weeks ago I couldn't run at all, this is perhaps a little ambitious, but it's a goal.

Last weekend I attended Storyhouse Women, my partner Dawn is on the steering committee and it's a fantastic event. One of the sessions I attended was called "Why it's ok to be a bit more medium" that was devised and chaired by the exceptional Molly Naylor, who is a brilliant writer, poet and I'm pleased to say, a mate of mine. The session looked at what it means to face the constant pressure to "smash" everything, to be exceptional, to give 110% etc. etc. It resonated very strongly with me. I'm creative, I make music, I play gigs, I entertain people. I feel under constant pressure, almost entirely from myself, to be better at it, to play more gigs, release more songs, get more listeners on Spotify (I have hardly any to be fair) get more streams. Molly's session was a brilliant opportunity to ask myself "is that pressure helping me, is it making me happy?". It's a question I've asked a lot in recent years, particularly in the face of some fairly serious mental health problems, and the answer is usually "no". I love making music, I love performing music, I hate self-promotion and I hate feeling under pressure or obliged to do something, even if it's something I love doing. When it comes to music I'm trying hard to just enjoy it, to lift that pressure and lean in to the love of it. I'm facing varying degrees of success, my focus on what goes wrong at gigs, rather than what goes right, is still there, and it spoils my enjoyment of live performance, but I'm aware of it, and I'm working on it. I'm feeling guilty about not having made much progress on my latest song, my friend Andre has provided some brilliant drum/percussion work for it, but it's still nowhere near finished and that's down to me. Rather than feeling pressured to do it though I'm concentrating on looking forward to working on it, what we've got so far does sound great!

So I'm not going to "smash" this sprint triathlon at the end of May. I'm going to try my best to complete it. Doing Couch to 5K has made me realise that one person's warm up run is another person's unachievable dream. Running 5km again will be a huge achievement in itself given how bad my climbing injury was. I also have no intention of getting into triathlons, my last marathon was enough to tell me I'm not an endurance athlete. I want to get my fitness back, but mainly so I can go climbing again, this time with a lot more focus on not falling off.

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