When Looking Back Is Helpful 

How many quotes tell us to not look at where we have come from but where we are going? I understand the point but sometimes, looking at how far you have come is a really useful exercise to be able to appreciate where you are now before moving forward again.

My last blog ended with Eastleigh 10k on the horizon. I was running better but not well enough to risk setting myself back, not even to silence the DNS gremlins so I have now entered this race four times and not once reached the start line, let alone completed it.

I was really disappointed. The deciding run didn’t go well and I spent the best part of that evening in tears and was not in a good place the whole weekend. I didn’t even go and support my friends and clubmates who were doing it….I just didn’t want to see people running well.

I took the following week off running and let it all settle. Despite a little wobble where I was encouraged to stop thinking about it so much, I have slowly increased my mileage and have now completed two 4 mile runs and a handful of parkruns.

This morning I went back to my ‘home’ parkrun at Netley. I hadn’t run there for a while, opting instead for the flatter Lee-on-the-Solent, Lakeside and Whiteley courses. Netley has three hills (technically one that is run three times) but this fact didn’t ease my frustration that my time was still rubbish. 

Let me define ‘rubbish’. My 5k PB is 24:55 that is now nearly three years old. Today I ran 29:39 on the same course as said PB. It was no consolation that I was only 30 seconds slower than the flatter course last week.

I KNOW it’s not about times (although it is something that I use to gauge where I’m at) and I KNOW that I should be happy that I am running three times a week with very little discomfort (and I am but now want more). I also KNOW that every day is different and shouldn’t compare one to the next (but I do because that is how I monitor how I’m feeling).

I KNEW all this when I finished parkrun this morning but I couldn’t see it. I like stats. I probably study them more than I should but hey, that’s me. I analyse (and over analyse) stuff. It’s how I find reason in things that happen.

So, after being tagged in a post about parkrun this morning, with photos of said tagger, I looked up mine from this morning. Two weeks running I have been happy with my parkrun photos as I look better than I feel, which is the opposite to most other photos of me running, especially the last year.

This made me think of one that I blogged about in January. So, in need of a visual to make me feel better about my times, I compared the one from January and the one from today.

I have only lost about 4-5lbs but it looks a lot more. Aside from the increase in training, the only change I’ve made is to my diet, namely cutting right down on fresh dairy products. This was after a bad episode of, what I thought was, hayfever as my breathing was laboured and it tied in seasonally. Having had dairy intolerances before, I wondered if it might me connected.

It clearly was! Within a week I was amazed at how relaxed my muscles had become, which suggests that the dairy had caused inflammation throughout my body. From musculoskeletal benefits to respiratory improvements, and even needing to tighten my goggles (?! random), it had definitely been a positive change.

So, going back to my original point, looking back at how far I’ve come in less than four months has made me feel a lot better about where I am right now.

Looking forward, I have Southampton 10k next weekend so the next blog will hopefully be a review of that.

1 thought on “When Looking Back Is Helpful ”

  1. Firstly, you look great in both pictures but you do look slimmer in the latest one. Glad to hear your running seems to be going well!
    Secondly, I’d fully recommend reading Black Box Thinking – it’s SUCH a good book about how learning from past mistakes and failures are the only way forward to progress. I think it’s silly not look behind us and make improvements. Yes perhaps not dwelling on the past is ideal but taking note of what has and hasn’t worked it definitely the way forward.
    Also, I haven’t been anywhere NEAR my parkrun PB in like a year and a half. I’m at least a minute (probably 1.5 mins) away from it and it’s highly unlikely I’ll get there anytime soon. Just work on improving week by week, that’s what I do.
    Lastly (sorry mammoth comment here), I’ve applied to the Gosport Half Marathon four times and never done it due to injuries. Sucks.

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