I’ve been running a lot. When I run, I think. This often results in falling over, but still, I think and I run. I run and I think.
I realised the other day, that when we return to school, it will have been six months. Six months for the smart kids to stay smart. The lazy kids to get lazier. The anxious kids to get more anxious.
A few months ago I stopped and thought about what I was doing. Was I staying smart? Was I getting lazy? Was I getting anxious. No, yes, yes were the answers. But the definition of smart, lazy and anxious I applied may not have been what people normally define them as. What it did was focus me.
I have three degrees. I am not stupid. But I get stale very quickly. I compartmentalise information into “I’m using this regularly” or “I don’t need this now”. Hence why I often forget people, not their names, whole people. But I do this more than just mentally. If one is using muscles they stay smart, if one is not using them they go into resting mode – basic principle of sports science – your body will prioritise working muscle that is being trained to fulfil the task it is being asked to perform. Don’t use the muscle, don’t have the ability to utilise the muscle. Your brain is similar in that regard.
I wasn’t staying smart for the first few weeks. Frankly I needed a break from work as it was. I was tired, cranky at how my running performance was going (poorly) and my climbing grades were not where I wanted them to be for an impending trip to Fontainebleau. Such is life. It took a few weeks to realise that a) all bets were off as to when racing was coming back, b) none of this matters, c) I need another outlet as I were not climbing.
Smart took over. I have a lot of hills locally – I had a three year old that needed entertaining and weighs 20kg. Put child in bag -> walk up hills. Repeat. Day after day. Reduce training to the most simple form. Build a base of strength to work off. My uphill hiking is stronger than it ever has been. I Ditched climbing. I can either focus on this or not. I dropped it totally. It was too warm for grit anyway. I did fingerboard for the first month. A ripped open tip running too close to barbed wire ended that.
Of my three qualifications, two are in sport science and human performance. But sometimes being smart is a hindrance. It gets in the way of doing when you spend to much time thinking about doing. So I opted to be lazy. The concept of spending money to make time is not something new to me. I’m not entirely in favour of it, but it makes sense when it gives a maximal return.
After my base of 4 weeks of uphill workouts with an ever increasing workload (longer walks, more climbs, more food to feed the beast, minimal food for me) I opted to spend. First I spent to have structure – a 16 week training plan from Uphill Athlete, minior investment. Secondly I spent time to reduce workload by structuring all my classwork into discrete blocks of time that I worked to – no sitting about the computer waiting to work – I worked set hours 7 days a week. Early starts pre-family wake-up time. Work now to be lazy later.
These two choices gave me a lot of free time down the line. Training was this session today, that session tomorrow. No more thinking, just do the fucking thing it says on the schedule. Work was regulated, this thing at that time, weekly. Don’t dick about. 10 weeks into this and I had more spare time than expected – i filled this with reading (getting smarter) and sitting on the couch (getting lazy to recover faster). By the end I had more free time than filled time. Which was good, as I was pretty tired from big (for me) running weeks.
My final qualification put me in the unenvious position of the possibility of near constant anxiety. What was going to happen to the kids I teach? What is going to happen with exams next year? Will I be constantly be running a gauntlet of disease ridden children (already do sort of)? Will I have a job next year? Should I be teaching Úna more stuff?
Stop. There is nothing I can do to control this. Do what I can to mitigate the impact on me of being around the students I want to help, do what I can to help them work through this. Everything else is with regards to school is beyond my control. Control what I can. Anxiety goes away. Not gone, just not at the forefront of my brain.
What could I control? Easy; My work – providing the best opportunity to progress that I could for all my students remotely or in person when I could. My location – house, forest, moorland, away from people I don’t know. My family life – tidy house, cooked dinners, homegrown food project, project a happy atmosphere. That’s it. Not much else I can impact on and see a direct response – so that Is where put my energy.
The only other thing I did was minimise my impact on others. That wasn’t hard. I don’t need to socialise that much. I don’t need to go to a pub. I don’t need to be in a shop/restaurant/hairdressers any of that. Cut it all. Be done with it.
So what came of this? I’ve had a lot of introspective navel gazing time – how have I spent it since March 16th?
- Just under 130 hours of recorded training – not activities, actual training
- Just under 40,000m of vertical ascent
- Just over 1,400km of training – 50:50 (fell running: mountain biking)
- Destroyed two pairs of fell shoes, one from new
- Ran every trail I know from my house
- Ran trails from my door I’d always wanted to try but felt they were too far away
- Linked three distinct riding areas with trails I’d never got round to trying
- Set very distinct goals for the next 7 weeks of holidays – and next year