Re-learning how to run and teach

I’m about to start Week 3 of teaching and, if I’m honest, it’s been a painful learning curve. It’s not that I’ve forgotten how to teach, but I have forgotten how heavy the work load was. This semester I’m teaching five different classes and it is a struggle to keep on top of the planning and weekly marking. Two of the classes are English language related, two are undergraduate content modules and the last is a series of weekly workshops. Ok granted I’m not planning from scratch for 4 out of 5 of these modules but I’m finding using other people’s materials takes almost as much planning time.

It’s strange. When I’m teaching I really enjoy the experience (for the most part) but the time in-between it’s this relentless pressure. It’s quite different to doing a PhD but the toll it’s starting to take is a little surprising considering it’s only Week 3, but I suppose it’s all part of starting a new job in a new city.

On a similar note, I’ve started running again. Last weekend was my first long run since July and, well, the next two days were hellish on my lower back. Did stretch properly post-run? Yes! Did I warm up properly? Um, define proper. Did you think about your pace and try slowing down because this was the first run in months? Nope. Now, today when you went out for your 2nd long run in two weeks did you learn anything from last week? Nope.

And so here I am with an aching back and a partial lesson for my 9am class tomorrow. The joys of being back in the learner’s seat.

Running to face down fear: Runs #6-8 and the Greater Manchester Run 2017

The events in Manchester last week have changed me in ways I can’t quite put in to words yet. This attack occurred in my city, my home – I feel a cluster of many emotions, some are more difficult to pin down than others. It’s been a week since the terrorist attack and while we return to going about our days, there is no going back to normal-normal. Sure, I’ve gone to work, I’ve met up with friends in a pub – all the usual things I do in a week. It’s just not the same. My city is not the same, at all, and I’m trying to process it in the best way I can, by running.

The day after the attack was run #6. I woke up early that day to a ton of messages on my phone asking if I’m safe. My first instinct was “eh?” (that is the extent of my conversational skills before coffee at 6am). It was several minutes of frantic scrolling that made me realise what had happened.

I wasn’t sure how to react and the next few minutes I think I just went into autopilot, texting replies to my family and friends abroad. I didn’t realise I was dressed in my running gear until it came to putting on my shoes. That’s when the fear hit me. Different to the reaction of reading news updates. This fear was new.  Unlike anything I’ve felt, ever.  This fear was immobilising and I sat for a good while, unable to move.

When I realised I couldn’t move, that’s when I got angry.

Why am I not moving?
Am I afraid?
WTF? No. NO.
I don’t want this. I don’t want to live in fear.
Make it stop! What can I do? What can I DO?

I got rightly pissed off. Somehow, in my anger, was able to tie my shoes and find the will to step outside my front door.

Run 6Run #6 (2km in 12:00)
: I can’t quite explain how I got myself out to run that awful morning. All I remember was feeling that I needed to run. To start dealing with the fear? To feel a little more ‘normal’, knowing that Manchester will change because of this? To give myself something to focus on? I don’t know really.

Run #7 (3km in 18:00): The run later that week was much of the same kind of emotional daze, just less of the initial shock from the news and more of the anger and sadness present.

28 May 2017 - Finisher's MedalRace day (10km in 1:01:25)
: Then came Sunday, the Greater Manchester 10K Run. I love this event. I really do. I’ve run every year for the past 5 years and it’s become a permanent fixture in my calendar. It’s a race that is so alive – not just because of the sheer amount of spectators but the energy along the track! The singing, the bands, the DJs, all the people along the sidelines cheering your on – it’s just so much fun! For me, this event represents everything great about Manchester.

So when I did ask myself if I should take part in a race that sees around 40,000 people running (my purple wave alone is 4000 runners), part of me crumbled, but then another part of me got really, really angry. I decided I had to run this race to face down my fears. I suppose I wanted to be there, to see first hand that my city was going to recover.

It was a subdued, yet positive atmosphere throughout. After our wave assembled at the start time, we began with 1 minute silence to remember the victims. It’s hard to imagine the city centre falling silent (and in Manchester of all places) but it was a powerful moment that made everything more real, more “here” for me. The silence ended with a reading of the poem “Do Something” by Tony Walsh, a stirring tribute that puts into words the spirit of this city. It was a kind of reassurance for me, that I was suppose to be here.

Run 8 - last one for MayFinal run, #8 (4km in 25:30)
: Today was my final run for #mymarathon. I’ve run a total of 47km / 29 miles this month for The British Heart Foundation. Although I’ve completed #mymarathon I’ll keep running. There are more races to run!

Thanks to all for your love, support and encouragement! If can, do consider making a donation to The British Heart Foundation: 

Run 4 and 5 of #MyMarathon 2017

The majority of my running posts do seem like I’m whinging a lot, but the reality is that I honestly like running. It’s become a habit I look forward to, and the kind of “me time” that helps me feel more at ease with the day ahead.

Run 4 should be titled “Holiday hill running hell” but actually, the hills weren’t the worst of it. Hill running is actually fun, in small doses, and good for building leg strength. I was in Brighton this past week and wow, have they got hills. Most of my running happens in Manchester where I live, and it’s fla-aaat road running, so hill training was a nice change. No, the worst bit of this run was that I got lost! Did 20 mins of hard core hill drills and was ready to call it a day. So off I went, stubbornly not checking my GPS because I know how to get back to the flat using my sense of direction. Yep. About 20 minutes later wandering up and down more hills I managed to find my way back to the flat but wow was I well annoyed at myself. No post-run chill for me this time. 5km in 40 mins (includes the long way back because HILLS).

Summer running means shorts and hats, and forehead lines…

Run 5 was back to regular flat road running in Manchester with an uneventful and easy 5km in 32 mins, with post-run extra chill thrown in.

This week is the last training week leading up to the Great Manchester 10km this Sunday. So, with that in mind I got 10 days to reach 42km for #mymarathon and over half way there!

I’m running on behalf of The British Heart Foundation this year. Please considering making a donation on my fundraising page!