It's ok to not want to run a marathon.


Is it just me or does everyone in the world seem to be training for a marathon, for a huge cycle around Cuba, or London to Paris, raising hundreds for charity, or just generally demonstrating their golden shining halos of angel-like qualities to the rest of the world. 

Is that not you? are you the one that isn't? Does everyone else sometimes make you feel inadequate? 

For the past few years I've watched a multitude of friends achieve amazing feats of endurance and discipline whilst supporting wonderful charities close to my heart, and felt like a complete failure for not being involved. It used to be that the five kilometres of Race for Life would suffice but that's just not the case any more! I've toyed with the idea of picking up the training program (I'm a personal trainer so could actually just write one myself!). I've looked at all the cycling and hiking charity expeditions, and thought about how I would raise the hundreds or thousands needed to get me there. I've convinced myself I will 'do it next year' but then next year comes and I still haven't done it!!! 

I've tried to run on my poorly knee, I get to about a mile and it starts to collapse. There is just no way I would get round a 26 mile route without an operation and a few months of rehabilitation first. I could probably undertake a cycle event, but the timing has never seemed right for the training to start and to be honest I'm a bit scared when I take my bike out on the country roads around me, that some youngster in a souped-up joy ride is going to lose concentration, just for a millisecond, and knock me off. Then I won't be cycling or running for anything, and the longer I'm out on the road for the training, the more likely it is to happen! 

As an Osteopath, every day I'm treating the injuries of these heroic angels. I'm looking at their bodies falling to pieces under the strain of over training or inadequate muscle engagement patterns, and am wondering if they really think pain is worth it. Then i'm wondering if i'm just making excuses for myself not to partake.  

After hours of contemplating and quiet discussions with myself, this year I've decided to listen to my inner being and my soul. Give myself a break. My soul says it's ok to not want to run a marathon. It may sound all 'airy fairy' but since the diagnosis of the big 'C' I think I've tried to be kinder to myself. I've tried to listen to the gentle, quiet, contented inner me, not the loud, bossy, righteous outer me. My soul is telling me it's ok to not want to compete and to achieve these 'amazing' challenges.

If I look at my life think I do my bit?! I raise money for charity and donate to causes in other ways. I've started some retreats to help people kick start their health both after illness and if they just need it. I go to the gym at least a couple of times a week. I walk all the time. I'm active, I do pilates, I ski in the winter, I am planning to windsurf and sail in the summer, I eat well. I meditate. I'm looking after myself. I'm nurturing myself. Exercise doesn't need to be high exertion, endurance based killer training. Exercise is by definition anything that requires effort to build or maintain health. I'm building the Serotonin levels in me, whilst maintaining my physical health. 

By nurturing myself I believe it makes me a happier, kinder, nicer person to the others around me -rather than the person I would be if I tried to implement a 6 day a week training program into my life, on top of everything else. Surely that's better for my friends and family. 

Whilst I am in awe of all my friends who make such wonderful achievements, I have finally decided I am happy to be on the sidelines with love and support. We all offer something different and unique to our community and our world. If we all decided to try to run a marathon you wouldn't be able to move on the street for runners. So if like me you feel a little bit guilty when your pals are behaving all angelic, getting up at the crack of dawn just to squeeze in an extra run, just offer to buy them a coffee when they're exhausted, then when you have a moment sit quietly, and listen to you inner self and see what you want to do, or what you already do that nurtures you. I bet there's loads! 

Ali Potter BSc Hons Ost. 

Osteopath, Personal Trainer, Pilates Teacher. 
Associate Osteopath at Southwold Treatment rooms.

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