Autumn, change and new challenges

Autumn, change and new challenges

tree

It is no surprise to me that my two favourite seasons, spring and autumn, are seasons of transition and change.

Spring, with it’s light and new life, is always such a relief after the depths of cold, dark winter. And whilst autumn could be seen as the herald of all that to come I still welcome it. To me it marks the start of slowing down, of long walks and foraging in the woods, but also that air of a fresh start that always came with each new school year.

Climbing down

Coming off the high of completing my first half marathon, the past week or so I have experienced what many long distance runners and particularly first-timers do – the ‘post-race blues’. I knew enough about it to know what to expect, and really it hasn’t been that bad, but a sense of purposelessness (is that even a word?) after eight months of working my way up to something has been clearly felt.

I read article after article on how to get over this slump and they all suggest the same thing – set yourself another goal. Preferably before you’ve even achieved the last one. Oops.

As soon as you do a half marathon the question comes: “So are you going to do a marathon?”

The answer to that, right now, is NO. I will not be doing a marathon any time soon. I really enjoyed the half marathon and I think I could have pushed myself to go a little faster but not farther. I honestly don’t know if I could run that far. I’m not even sure I’d enjoy it and – having found it difficult to fit in half marathon training – I have no idea where people find the time to do the long distances required.

I’m not saying I’ll never do it, but it is not my goal for 2016.

Taking time

So where next? Again, I’m not entirely sure. But I don’t personally feel like the way for me to overcome one physical challenge is by setting myself another one straight away. As tempting as it is.

I have lots of other non-fitness goals and things I feel like I should be getting on with in life. Things that I’ve been putting off because I’ve been so busy with work and training (running is good for me in so many ways but I also hold my hands up that I use it as an excuse/distraction, often).

I got a brilliant email from my yoga teacher the other day. It really came at the right time, she can’t have known how much I needed to read the words she wrote just at that exact moment.

“Now is not a time to charge ahead, doing as much as possible, spending your energy. Instead it is time to sit with it, rest, take time to formulate ideas and this way you will feel more secure, clarity will appear when the time is right”.

Often the Type A over-achiever in me gets together with the part of me that loves shiny new things and goes full steam ahead into a new project or challenge. Then it’s over and I’m left with the same ‘what now?’ feeling.

So I have decided to sit with and examine that feeling a bit longer. Why do I move from one thing to the next without really stopping to enjoy the moment? What is important to me? What should I invest my time in?

And whilst I’m working that out I will:

  • Explore – read, write, listen, learn. I’m forever fascinated in what ties all my disparate interests together and how I can find time to squeeze them all in, so I’m going to do a little bit of digging into what I love and what motivates me. I’m going to think as well as just doing. I’m signed up to do some courses with the multipod website Puttylike to work out how to manage my time better and explore my passions.
  • Go outdoors – autumn is my favourite time of the year for getting out and foraging in the woods and fields.
  • Keep running – last year was the first year I made a concerted effort to keep running through the colder months, and I’m so glad I did. Only now I’m going to run only for the love of it, not because I’m trying to achieve a certain time or distance.
  • Develop my yoga and pilates practices – if the autumn and winter months are the time to slow down and stay in, then there’s nothing better I can think to do indoors than restorative, strength building practices that are going to nurture my body and mind. That being said, I want to try and go to classes more so that I can learn from and share my practice with others.
  • Build strength – a lot of this year I was focused on getting faster, but it was only when I started building strength and resistance into the latter stages of my running training that I really felt my fitness get a boost.
  • Eat well – of course the colder months are an excuse to eat more food, but I am the worst for losing all motivation to cook healthy fresh food when the nights draw in. I’m going to put more thought, and a bit more planning, into eating for health and sustenance.

What are your plans this autumn? Do you like to slow down or keep going at the same pace?