Monday, 28 December 2015

Prophetic Trousers


Love my Christmas present, best running tights in the world EVER. Black in the cold light of day (or night), but illuminated like stars when a lights shines on them or when photographed with a flash. Very very cool.

If I were to do a word cloud infographic of me and all the words that matter, it would include the word ‘stars’. And rose diamonds, adventure, running, love, desire, rivers, treasure, Source, walls, space, island, ocean, life, challenge, pioneer, pearl, desert, writing, words, future…..


Stars
Stars feature in the bible quite a lot and one of my favourite ever phrases is from Philippians 2, “……shine like stars in the universe as you hold on to / hold out the Word of Life”. I think that when God made people is His own image, He put some of His light into us, and as far as I know, (clearly I’m no Professor Brian Cox) stars are the only things in the universe that can be seen because they shine their own light rather than by the reflected light of the sun.

So in the interests of raising the standards of my life, today is a day to shine like a star as I hold onto and hold out the word of life. I want to be shining in running and in life (you know me, can’t separate the two). For the record, I see other people shining like stars too, often way before they see it themselves. So I'll be running and shining and living like a star, and I would so love it if you'd come with me. Who's in?

Come and run with me :-)

Sunday, 13 December 2015

I'm a distance runner

There. I said it. I acknowledged this reality at about mile 11 of today’s 20 mile trot. When I first started running 10 years ago, I spent the first year refusing to wear running kit in case people thought I was a runner. For future reference, jeans and a winter coat make running more difficult, especially in summer! But today I can proudly announce that I am a runner, and that my life and my running are all about the journey.

Today’s journey
Miles 1 to 5 – feeling awkward, felt overdressed for the weather, wasn’t sure if I’d manage 20 after yesterday’s 15, had a few niggles and hadn’t decided on a route. 

Miles 6 to 10 – took an unplanned right turn up a road that I’ve never been on before. Turns out Potter’s Lane is a very lovely place to run,  lots of sheep, LOTS of horses, no people and pleasantly undulating. Settled into running pleasantness.

Miles 10 to 13
– Stopped being self-conscious, stopped trying to think of things to think, and the real stuff started. People tell me often that running is my escape from life. But it’s really not. Running is where I find my life. Running is where I’m restored. The questions arising from today’s ponderings include, “are you flying, falling, or still in the nest?”. Think baby birds. I’ve been kicked out of the nest recently, and I’m often not sure if I’m flying or falling. Though they’re kind of the same thing aren’t they, and I reckon that if I’m brave enough to spread out my wings a little, I might just catch a thermal and end up flying. One thing is for sure. I'm not going back in the nest. When you’ve experienced flying or falling, the nest is no longer an option.

Miles 14 to 19 – Back on familiar roads, the happy realisation that I’m going to make the 20 miles without dying (although I might be hungry as  I kind of set out 90% unprepared, no food and only 500ml water!). At one point I wondered what it would be like to stop but realised my feet were on automatic, and I felt I could probably keep going for another 20 miles (that’s the deluded feeling of invincibility that running gives you :-) )

Mile 20 – Let’s bring this baby home, with bells on. NO LIMPING across the line. I like to finish strong so the run knows it’s well and truly conquered. By me.

So there you go, that’s today’s journey.

Where are you at? Flying, falling, or still in the nest? You could always join me for a (shorter) run/jog/walk and find out.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Hurdles - what hurdles?

LiRF
This is not the ‘best’ photo of me at the Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course I went to in Bromley yesterday. But it reminded me that a couple of years ago someone who's opinion I respected told me that I was the type of person who could, did, and would leap over life’s hurdles, even those where other people would chicken out. And yesterday, I went over one. Well, quite a few actually, but now I’m a qualified Run Leader. Get me!!!!

Thank you
Thank you to everyone who sponsored and supported me on this first step towards the vision “to explore the possibility of leading small running groups to help those who may be struggling to manage their own mental health, particularly depression and suicidal thoughts.”
Just to say, the course was amazing. There was lots of cross-over with my teaching qualification actually, lots of grounding in practical exercises, and plenty of access to resources to develop your own sessions. Any runners out there who want to join me in this thing, get yourself on that course (it’s just a day).

Back to Hurdles
Can I just point out that I’m not really much of a masochist, I would often prefer to be in a hot bath or back home in the comfort of my jammies, just like everyone else. If I hide long enough, maybe it will go away. Can you relate? Someday I’ll work out why it’s so much more fulfilling to get out there and jump the hurdle. In the mean time I can just assure you that it feels sooooooo good when you’ve done it.

Now I’m pretty sure I’ve got some hum-dingers lined up in front of me in the next year or two, and I’ll be relying on my friends and family and mostly my God to help me get me over them. But I promise you that one way or another, I will get over them.

Over to you
What about you? What are your hurdles? I'll be starting up a local running group shortly, more detail later, but feel free to facebook me for info. You may be thinking yes I’d really like to see what the heck Jacky is on about, why running rocks, why it's so good for mental and physical health. But….

o   I don’t usually get up for 9am
o   I’d be afraid of finding the venue for the first time
o   I’m scared of coming on my own
o   I don’t want to speak in case I say something stupid
o   Everyone else will think I’m fat, slow, tall, short, old, young, stupid ETC ETC
o   I’m frightened of meeting new people

D’ya know what?

I thought every single one of those things yesterday. I did yesterday's course so that I can show you that you can do it too.

Need help? I can give you help. Need someone to believe in you? I believe in you. Need someone just to show you how to get there? I can do that!


Please, come and run with me.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Happiness is....?

Something strange happened to me today: - I felt happy, really completely supremely happy. 

And it was a good feeling, but if I’m honest, not one I’m used to. I mean I’ve often felt positive, like say, when the sun’s shining, or when I’m enjoying good food or from getting a kick out of some genius magic I’ve worked with data and stats at work.

But this morning was different, a feeling of absolute happiness, smiling but from the inside. Maybe you could even call it euphoria.

Of course I was running. It started just after half way through a 10 mile run this morning. I dragged my sorry butt out of bed with, let’s say, maybe 5 out of 10 enthusiasm. Not sure you can ask much more of me at 6am on a Sunday morning! I always take a while to warm up, but at about 6 miles I felt the natural happy drugs kick in. By 9 miles, back on the prom, I looked out to sea and felt a million dollars. In fact I spread my arms out wide (think Titanic, ‘King of the world’) and sang ‘Wide wide as the ocean’ like a loon (it’s an old Sunday school song). Yes, there were other people on the prom by then J. But I felt so good!

How did I get from the darkness a couple of months ago to here? What was the journey from A to B? If I could bottle it for people who feel sadness and wish they weren’t here, I seriously would. I know very well what that feels like.

A few weeks ago, someone fired an arrow and it hit me in the very most sensitive place in my life. It was a good thing, I don’t know how it happened really, but it hit me in the depths of my soul and undid me, unraveled me.

So then I didn’t know what do with that. I’d given up alcohol, but then there was nothing else to deal with the pain I’d been covering up. Seriously what do you do with emotions????? Mine seem strong. Frustration, anger, joy, enthusiasm, hurts, hatred (the one I most fear) and love. I don’t know, all sorts. What do you DO with all that????

I’ll tell you what you do.
  • You pray – because God’s love is wide enough and deep enough
  • YOU RUNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!  - because serotonin works.
I have so much more that I’d like to write, this is so brief and inadequate.

Mostly, if you’re at A, let me tell you that you can get to B, you can get out of the mud, you can shake off the dirt, and you can run into a life in all its fullness.

Please, let me take you for a run!






Thursday, 1 October 2015

Run with Me

Yesterday I wrote “I’m on a fail-a-thon. It’s a bit like a marathon except that instead of being a fit, fast winner, I’m a fat, slow loser”.

The truth is that I’m a marathon-running winner, and I want to run as if to win the prize (in life and running!), but sometimes I stumble and fall. Hey, I’m a winner, but I never said I was perfect, right?

That’s why I’m quitting alcohol for October, and I’m asking you to help me achieve that goal whilst raising the funds to complete a Leadership in Running Fitness Course, followed by the next step, a Coach in running Fitness Course. The courses are run by England Athletics, and you can find more at englandathletics.org

Why a Run leader course?
I know that running is very good for mental health, and inspired by the feedback of friends, I want to explore the possibility of leading small running groups to help those who may be struggling to manage their own mental health, particularly depression and suicidal thoughts. ‘Up and running Sevenoaks’ runs courses that are similar to what I have in mind (www.upandrunninginsevenoaks.org.uk if you’re interested).  Run England trains local leaders to inspire and lead small groups of runners to train safely, to overcome barriers, and to create inspirational sessions available to all. I believe I may have something to offer in the area of running to support mental health and am pushing some doors to see where this may lead.  

Why Sober for October?
I could ask you to sponsor me to run a marathon, but frankly, I’ve done a few of those and it really wouldn’t be fair to ask you to put your hand in your pocket for me to do something that really is not much of challenge. However – I’ve only ever managed 2 weeks alcohol free in my adult life. Trust me, stopping alcohol for a month will be my biggest life challenge to date! I want to be free of it, for health and wealth reasons, but also because it’s not a smart way to deal with the stresses and strains of life. I’m asking you to sponsor me because your support will help me. I’m motivated by success, so every pound raised will egg me on to complete this challenge.

What’s the target?
The initial leadership course costs £155, and the Coach course is a further £410, making the total target £565. As I’ve said, any support you can give will inspire me and encourage me towards my Sober for October target and I say in advance how grateful I am for any and all support given.

And finally
… it almost goes without saying, if you pray, if that’s something you do, please pray for me.

Let’s RUN! Do support, please go to

Support via YouCaring



Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Get up, and win the race!


So on Friday I ran my first 5k race for many months, and guess what? – I won!

The conditions were favourable, barely a breath of wind, and at 21m46s I was pleased to bring it home in a respectable time.  

Ok so that 21.46 won’t be getting me any Olympic medals any time soon. And Ok, there were no spectators, and I admit, there weren’t even any other competitors. But did I win? Ohhhhh yeaaaaah.

In fact, I think I won that race at about the 2.5 mile mark. Have you ever noticed that however far you’re running, somewhere about half to two thirds of the way in is often where you win or loose? The honeymoon period and excitement of the start is over, the finish is yet to come into sight, and yet you’re reaching the stage of exhaustion. From 400m to Marathon, it’s always the same! This is where the real test comes. At that point I’m thinking not only ‘I can’t do it’, but also ‘I don’t want to do it!’. Why would I, it hurts! And then some kind of strength of resolve or resource kicks in, and at this point this is where I know I can win, I will keep going and finish this thing. Haven’t put my finger on exactly what this is about yet, but oh, the victory when it’s home is sweet. You know what I’m talking about.

So in running or life, what is winning?

Well, I don’t think it’s about beating other people, competitive though I am. Steve Ovett is reputed to have said “win the race in the slowest time possible.” Is that winning? As someone said to me recently, winning by beating other people just depends on who turns up on the day, and I guess it’s also a matter of the quality of the opposition. I don’t want my capacity to win to be determined by others. Hell no! I want to win the race. In fact, I want to win THE race, and oh my goodness, I will run as if to win THE prize.

Take a look at this well-shared video of Derek Redmond at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. You tell me, who really won that race?




I had another win on Friday too.

I’ve been struggling with negative thoughts and depression lately. But with the help of friends and family, with the truth that my resurrected King Jesus has rendered death defeated, I’ve won this race this week too. Quite a week of victories!

A final thought from a poem I heard over 20 years ago. There’s a wonderful line in it that says ‘winning is no more than this, to rise each time you fall’.

I make no apologies that it’s impossible to separate life from running. Get up, and win the race!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Redemption and Faith

Redemption...

Definitely the wettest run EVER last night, 10 miles in a flood! So why did I find it so completely exhilarating???? 

Definitely a Shawshank moment







...and Faith


Welcome to an extract from a Facebook conversation I had with a friend the other day. Hope it does you good as it did me. 

A. Can I ask you a question? How did you manage to get to 9 miles? Did you believe you could do it?

Jacky. Well basically you just increase your run by 5 minutes each week and then as if my magic, you find you're running 9 miles.

A. As if by magic? Did you believe you could do it?

Jacky. Honestly, it's as simple as that. Tiny increases. It's the same as marathon training - you start wherever you start, increase by 5 or 10 minutes per week, and you get to 26 miles.

A. So, did you ever believe you could run a marathon?

Jacky. Did I believe I could do it? Well I think confidence grows over the years and with experience. I remember the first time I ran 3 miles and telling EVERYONE! I remember running 6 and that being such a milestone. I remember the first time I ran 12 miles and I told random people in the street. And I remember hearing about someone running 18 miles and thinking that was utterly out of my league…….

A. Thank you.

Jacky. …….. BUT - I know now that you just do a little bit more each time and before you know it you're running further than you could ever imagine.

A. You've just increased my faith...

Jacky. Exactly. I really honestly believe the impossible now. I seriously believe I’m going to run 40 miles a day for 10 days.


The lesson from this innocent conversation? Faith, in whatever area it’s in, doesn’t start with believing the impossible. It starts where you are, it increases as you take a few more steps at a time, until all at once, you’re walking in and believing in The Impossible.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

First to 70!!


Smashed it!

This week I ran 70 miles. 70 miles, AAAHHHH!, SEVEN ZERO, 70 miles!!!
Not in one go, but broken down to 5 days of 9 miles, then 2 x 13 milers back to back. 

Previous record was 32 miles in 7 days. I can't help but want to write about it!

First question, why??????
Well on Sunday, I was planning to run an 18 mile long run, but on the day realised I hadn't mapped the route, hadn't organised nutrition, didn't really have time, and in short, I bailed and just ran 9. 
On Monday I was due to train with a friend in Hastings, 3 miles away. Conventional wisdom says don't follow a long run with another intense session, but I figured, 3 miles there, 3 miles training Nat, 3 miles back? Yeah, give it a go. 
Turned out fine. Then I started to hatch the plan. If I can manage 2 long runs in succession without getting injured, I wonder what would happen if I kept doing it? I'd watched Eddie Izzard churn out Marathons day after day and wondered how he'd done it. Maybe conventional wisdom, or at least what I'd learned so far, could be challenged. 
So I aimed for 63 miles, 1 week at 9 miles a day.
By mid week I began to search online to see what was possible to achieve, and stumbled across Rory Coleman. Before I read up on him, I'd facebooked him just to chat. He replied with "I remember doing 70". Well what choice did I have, the guy threw down the gauntlet - 70 it is then!

Tell us about the good bits
I've learned lots, and am amazed by some of the outcomes. 

  • No injury - whenever I felt a niggle, I slowed down a little, and incredibly my body seemed to adapt rather than crumble
  • No blisters - thank you Adidas Adistar Boost and Feetures socks
  • No tiredness - this is a biggy. In a usual day, I need to nap. But from Tuesday, not at all! You would think that I'd need hours more sleep, but in fact, my energy levels have increased
  • No alcohol - last week I drank (to my shame) 4 bottles of wine. This week, not a drop, with no effort or even thought 
  • No medication - Have completely stopped anti-depressants and yet my motivation for life is high, instead of wanting to lay down and shut my eyes
  • Good and healthy appetite - yum, lots of red meat (aka steak)
  • I ran faster towards the end of the week than I did at the beginning, and my 70th mile was a 7.45. Surprised! I thought I'd be crawling!
And the downsides?
  • Having to wash kit more often than usual
  • A little chaffing under the bra line, solved by an anti-antiperspirant stick

What's next then?
Honestly, I'm not sure where to go from here. The benefits of daily running seem immense. I'm wondering if I should carry on with the 9 miles daily mileage, and increase the Sunday long run? Then try some speed in the fullness of time. 
But any suggestions? would be brilliant and much appreciated!