Obliterated. A word that has a somewhat aggressive, action packed, and explosive feel to it, I think you’ll agree. Probably quite a good word if you are engaged in a ferocious battle and it’s describing the capitulation of enemy forces. Less so if it’s a medical description of your ankle ligaments. Indeed, my long suffering physio told me it is the first time she has even seen that word used in an X-Ray report. And whilst at the back of my mind I tried to kid myself that she said this with something approaching awe, in reality, I don’t think it was meant as a compliment.

So, even for me, there is a dawning realisation, that my mid life salvation of long distance running may need to draw to a premature close. Currently this is still only a consideration, but given that I would still like to be able to walk in my sixties, then deep down I think I know what the answer has to be on this one. For now of course, denial rules supreme. Predictably, I went for a run the day after receiving the report, and afterwards all was well (ish). Thus I fully intend signing up for a sub 10k fun run this weekend. Could be a final hurrah.

The last few months have been difficult to say the least. Since leaving my dream job (though it had turned into a nightmare), I have been more than a little lost. In my mind, running is one of the few escape routes from my challenging reality. Whether it is simply getting out in the fresh air, finding space to think, forcing myself to achieve what my body shouldn’t be able to, or just being in the delightful space that is “the zone” – thinking about nothing, looking at nothing, just being nothing – I don’t know. It’s probably all of them. As my prognosis became more self evident by the increasingly ballooning state of my post run ankle, so my weight increased. As my weight increased so my mood grew darker. As my mood grew darker my motivation to run decreased. You get the idea I’m sure.

Overt focus on mental well-being, and talking about how you are feeling, are all the rage currently, and rightly so. But knowledge of that doesn’t make it any easier if it is an anathema to you. Bottling things up, looking at the positives and “she’ll be right” can be very persuasive when it’s all you’ve known and all you’ve been fed. We can’t all turn into Stormz at the flick of a switch. So I’ve suffered in silence. Those closest to me are going through even tougher times so my role is supposed to be supportive, but that, plus a sense of loss, frustration and general uselessness as a result of losing the best job opportunity of my life, has only made things worse. Now of course, running, one of the few shining beacons, albeit more of a hazy glow these days, has all but been obliterated.

Before I get too lost (either in my self pity or this blog post) I should highlight that I know this is all relative. I am in the lucky position not to have to find a job quite yet, I am able to travel, and with the obvious exception of the obliterated ankle, I am relatively fit and healthy – if a little fat. Yet depression doesn’t deal in perspective and relativity. It simply descends, unwanted, like a Victorian London fog, and sucks up whoever it can get it’s withering hands on. My resolve is that it will not be me.

Writing helps. As does time. I know that the answer is to find something else healthy to do that is less destructive on my joints (it will not and never will be aqua-jogging). Put my effort into not eating crap. Get outdoors and hobble. And of course find a job. In the meantime it’s time to learn to enjoy life again. When you are blindly lost, deep in your own woes, it’s easy to forget the wonders of the simple things in life. The pace of modern day life does its very best to stifle these most basic of pleasures, but I for one am intending to focus hard on not letting modern life drag me down any more. Even a solitary existence can be a wonder to behold if you take time to breathe, to smile and to hold your head up high.

A solitary existence is an interesting thing. Circumstances have decreed that I now spend large chunks of time far apart from those closest to me – temporarily and due to family challenges, nothing more sinister. Yet this is proving challenging in itself, far more so than I would have ever imagined. The lack of a job means I am constantly fighting a lack of focus. When the lack of focus wins, the mind wanders. And in a game of organ “Top Trumps”, the mind trumps everything. It can make or break you at a whim and every day is different. I find myself longing for routine, rueing the unfairness of how things have panned out, whether it be with my nearest and dearest, my job, or my blessed ankle. None of that self deprecation is healthy. The only way to bear it is to force myself out and practice those simple glories of fresh air and smiles, whilst holding your head high. After a while it feels less forced and more genuine.

The exit to my predicament is still something I need to find. A solitary, non working, non running life is not the answer. Despite being a closet introvert, I find I crave company. On my own terms of course. Despite only wanting to eat tasty unhealthy crap, I am desperate to lose weight and feel fitter again. Christ, I am even desperate to start working again, although this is proving far more difficult than I thought it would be. As with every challenge, it is far easier to solve if you can break it down into chunks. (I would use the elephant analogy here but sadly I would quite fancy devouring one right now if it were deep fried – must remove temptation from my path). Taking things day by day, not getting hung up on stuff that has happened, seeing people and not beating myself up. These will all be good starting points. Never forget life is short too, so it’s pointless to waste time wallowing.

Back to the ankle. I have now enrolled in the fun run, so we will see how that goes. The human body is a wonderful thing and everything can be good for you in moderation. Worst case I will have to shelve my running and find something similar. I guess cycling may not be too bad, although I pity the world if I am ever to be seen in lycra. That will be another blog post entirely. For now though, this has probably been my most self indulgent and hopefully cathartic post yet, for which I both apologise and make no apology at all. If others feel similarly at their wits end then I sympathise massively. For all the wonders of the human mind it can also be the cruelest place known to man. Our challenge is to overcome it and use it for good. Our own good.

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