It has been a tricky week. Not for physical, running-related reasons – I’m feeling happy and confident about the marathon, and ready – but for mental ones. Moods, moods, moods. I have written before about why I run and how it can lift my mood like nothing else. It works so well, my friend Tom wrote recently to warn me not to rely only on running, because what if I get injured and can’t run? Abyss of despair? It’s a good point.
I also run because I have endometriosis, and the severest version of it. It gives me very little pain these days, because I’ve had surgery to remove some (though it quickly grows back), but also, I think, because I am so fit. But endometriosis, I am certain, is also related to mood swings that, I am certain, are related to swinging hormone levels. I try hard to keep everything balanced, not just by running and training, but by eating well, taking magnesium, and consulting a herbalist, Kath Antonis, who I think is brilliant. Her goal is to balance my oestrogen levels. Endometriosis is oestrogen-related, and I probably have too much of it. So Kath made up a remedy that included black cohosh, nettle, ginger and other stuff. It was working really well, but I’ve run out.
The other context is that I’m heading rapidly to an early menopause. I’ve had a drug-induced menopause before, and I recognise now the faint hot flushes (nothing like they were last time, but they are definitely hot flushes), the sleeping difficulties (very uncharacteristic except when I am taking hideous drugs like Prostap). And the black black moods. So very black. The kind of black moods where I have to hold on to the railing when I cross bridges because otherwise some instinct might overpower my logical brain. I’m not suicidal (HONEST. NOT AT ALL) but in the blackest of moods, jumping off a bridge sometimes doesn’t seem as totally impossible as it should.
It’s usually only that bad with PMT, but last week it has been relentless. I fight PMT with running, so even though this week has been hard, to the point where doing the washing-up seems impossible, and one day I even retreated to bed because it was easier than being awake. But I have still gone running. I still went to club run and chatted about marathon training, and people’s new and impending babies, and the reason I know that I’m fighting my hormones is that even after a lovely sociable club run, afterwards I had none of the usual run-rush that I get usually without fail.
The next day I ran again. I hadn’t done 10 miles on Monday, because I was still tired from 20 miles on Saturday, so I set off up to Eccup to get in 8 miles. Better than nothing, and I am tapering now. I am “only” running 16 miles this weekend. Hilarious, when I remember being unable to run two miles, that I now think it normal that 16 miles is considered a short run. Hilarious, and brilliant.
It was stupidly cold. Stupidly, because I planted carrots and beetroot last week, and then the temperature dropped back to Baltic. I had gloves and jacket again, though a few weeks ago I was running in vest and shorts at the East Hull 20. I ran up to Eccup, but not fast and not brilliantly. Maybe it was my shoes: I’ve been trying to vary my shoes a bit, so I put my trail shoes on, even though about five of the eight miles would be road. But I don’t think it was the shoes. By Alwoodley, it was raining too. On the track to the reservoir there were two women walking dogs, and as usual I wasn’t sure whether to shout to alert them, or try to make as much noise, or just try to make my way round them. I think shouts can make people jump; I don’t slap my feet down hard enough and coughing sounds daft; and sometimes making my way round them can make people jump too. I ran past them then one said, oh, sorry! So I stopped and said, I’m sorry too, I never know how best to get past people without scaring them. I’m working on my technique.
I usually encounter at least a dozen people walking dogs or just walking at Eccup, but today was quiet because it was cold and wet and getting dark. There was just one man walking alone. One man walking alone is not what you like to see, though I feel less suspicious of men with dogs, which is just daft. Nefarious men are capable of having dogs. I wonder what it feels like to be a man on your own walking and know that women will probably regard you with suspicion. It must be worse, if you are young.
Eccup was as beautiful as ever, though it looked like winter in almost-April. But my legs were leaden. I think I was dehydrated, but I hadn’t brought water for such a short run. I had no gels. I could do nothing but keep running but it was one of those runs that felt like trudging. I headed back, back through the golf course, hoping no-one would aim a small white ball at my head. Back up Primley Park Avenue, looking at the warm light in some windows – it was home time, and raining hard now – and thinking how lovely it looked, and remembering coming home from school when I was young, and it was winter and dark at 4pm, and walking up Oxford Road and feeling scared until I got home, to the light and the warmth.
I ran up to Harrogate Road and the home strait. Back to my cats, back to a massage and stretch and a bath, but not back to the usual endorphin rush. Whichever hormones are battling in my brain, the bad ones were winning.
Today is better. Tomorrow will be better too.
TUESDAY: STRENGTH TRAINING SESSION
WEDNESDAY: CLUB RUN, 7 MILES, ONE BIG HILL
THURSDAY: 8 MILES, ECCUP RESERVOIR