Come near me – Head games, Strathclyde parkrun 316 and Grangemouth 3000m OGM

Most of my blogs pretty much write themselves and I know exactly what I am trying to say before I start typing. This is one is a different beast altogether. I’m not sure where I am going or what I am going to say. Most of it won’t make sense. It’ll be disjointed and probably in a few sections but will hopefully come together. There will be sections that are unclear but I will give it a go. Welcome to the markgallmac therapy session.

 Over the last couple of years one of the great things about running is that it has given me an escape from some of the unpleasant things in life, tough times at work etc. Go out there, hit the road hard, either clear your mind or think through your problems. Brilliant. I think I took it for granted that this philosophy would always work for me. Now this next bit isn’t about fishing for concern and I’m not going to go into specifics but it is an integral part of this blog. In the last couple of weeks I have had a couple of really bad bits of news that I can do nothing about and that have affected me really badly. That is all you are getting here as my running is public but other things are private. Whilst not running away from my problems, because there are some things you can’t run away from, I wanted some respite from the worry. Nothing unusual there.

 On Saturday I decided to do Strathclyde parkrun. The thought was to channel how I was feeling into a hard run and clear my head for a bit and maybe the aggression could take me to a decent time as well. Yeah I know, coupling the life stresses with the running stresses that I, and only I, put myself under is REALLY going to work. I woke up on the Saturday and didn’t want to do it. I went down and warmed up, chatting vacantly to RHCs Paul Kernohan and MACs Graeme Kennedy and didn’t want to do it. Head screwed up. Didn’t want to run against anyone I knew. Didn’t want anyone to come near me. Really bizarre. I should have went home there and then. Starting line and off we go. Paul off like a whippet, and I was sitting comfortable in third alongside Davie Gardiner. Physically comfortable. Mentally uncomfortable. Every stress came to a head and I felt like was going to have some sort of panic attack and that my head was going to explode. I pulled to the side, turned round and jogged back to the start, trying to avert the gazes and comments from the 200 odd people that must have wondered what I was doing. For that whole weekend, even if a race was mentioned to me or came into my head I felt physically sick. Did a 15 miler on the Sunday on my own as couldn’t contemplate running with anyone. Don’t come near me. Struggled. Slogged. Didn’t want to do it, but glad I saw it through. MAC time trial was on Tuesday. Again could not contemplate the stress of doing it. The thought was making me feel sick. 

 I was telling myself that my training was all wrong. Because I hadn’t ran a race since Paris and that hadn’t went to plan then I was slower since then as well and I would be humiliated. The head and mind as I say are peculiar beasts. Because I am already feeling worn out and low then possibly it is intensifying other feelings. Yes, I am not a confident runner, but this was another level altogether. As I say, I can’t do anything about my other issues but I can do something about this. I needed a race where I didn’t know anyone with no pressure of time, people, anything.

Could you race the legend in Lycra in the wrong frame of mind? 

 There was an open graded meeting at Grangemouth coming up I had been looking at, and I confirmed my entry for another wee shot at a 3000m track race. I’m inexperienced these days at track. I’m not very good at it, so no expectations, no fear, and most importantly for me Elaine and the boys agreed to come along to support me. I needed that in the fragile mind state I had got myself in. So went along last night. 

Made the schoolboy error of looking at the start lists, Cambuslang’s Brian Douglas, Falkirk’s Fiona Matheson. If you aren’t familiar with Fiona she is an age group world best holder I believe, runs to a WAVA of 100 and despite being in the o50s runs 17 minute 5ks for fun. I started googling others in the race too, then stopped. Daft old fecker. No pressure, doesn’t matter. 

Had a wee warm up in the evening rain and felt ok. Yeah I was going to do this. Helped a guy from Fife with his number that had fallen off. Oooh I was relating to my fellow runners. That’s something. And it helped. Daft wee things. 17 of us on the starting line. A lot of juniors through to the old vets like myself and we were off. The juniors went rapidly. I was aiming for near to my last time of 10.32, but the leaders were round 200m in 35 36 seconds, far too fast or me so I let them go. Elaine said afterwards that she wondered what was up with me as I slipped back through the field, back in about 12th place and getting further behind. I wasn’t bothered. I wasn’t doing a crazy pace and I was going to finish. Early doors and Brian stepped off the track, not sure what was wrong. I stuck myself in behind Fiona as we started to pick a few runners off. I felt ok, both mentally and physically, I even think I may have been enjoying it. Steady paced, and watch telling me I was on for a run in the region of 10.30. Final lap and I should have gone earlier, but about 150 to go and I went away from Fiona and chased the juniors who were slowing in front of me. Caught two and was just behind another couple on the line and a new PB of 10.31.34 in 5th place. Finish in the video below. 

Missed the sub10.30 but my Garmin telling me the distance was 3060 metres, so either don’t trust the GPS, the track is long, or don’t run as much in lane 2 as it appears I may have done 🙂 Happy with it though. Got the monkey off my back and I know that the longer I left it the more serious it would have got.


Finished 5th not 4th. Oops.

The stress on myself has to go. The talk of sub 18s and all that rubbish is not for me just now. I know it is all of my own doing. So I am as promised all over the place on this blog. What was I saying? Running can be a great mind healer but sometimes it doesn’t work. I don’t know what the answer is in this situation, but I would love to know. I asked the question on the Running the Distance Facebook page and got a lot of great suggestions, so maybe over the next wee while I will find a bit of peace and find a balance with my head turmoil and with running clearing the head, last night was a start. I am guilty of ignoring my own advice. Run for fun. Even if things are bad elsewhere, you still deserve that little time out to lift yourself. Separate it and remind yourself that you DO deserve it. Also don’t let your targets take over and spoil your enjoyment. I have done that. Again. It is unfortunately in my nature but then we all have our quirks. I get myself too hung up and ruin my enjoyment. Challenge yourself but don’t punish yourself. Maybe it’s time to forget running hard and just go out and enjoy. Or maybe the opposite and go out and run hard and be brave again, and sod the consequences but I haven’t done that since Helensburgh. Irritating but thin skinned. Who knows? And that’s the plan for now. I don’t know. Let’s take it run by run and make it fun again. I’ll sign off here by saying that next Saturday is my first step. All being well I hope to run and complete the Haddington half marathon. Last year I tried to PB it, win the club champs, and was under prepared and finished it in an ambulance. Let’s treat the run with respect, finish it and get a bit of closure. Later blogpeeps and thank you for the therapy session 🙂

 Come near me, the latest from Massive Attack featuring the talent that is Ghostpoet. Sparse. Claustrophobic. Troubled. Apt.

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