Yesterday, I had a truly shitty day at the office.
Nothing particularly bad happened, but I was a week into jet lag and insomnia was making me crazy. Our coffee machine was broken. I was uncontrollably hungry, no matter how much I ate. My neck and shoulders ached from stress. I had a tension headache. I’d foam rolled extensively the night before and my calves felt like they were about to snap. My brain felt like it was working at 20% and I had a tight deadline.
I had a running date planned that evening with my friend Ben, and when I called him to confirm, I was secretly hoping he’d flake. He’d been out for a decadent lunch that had only just finished, and we’d been running a lot recently. I hoped those two factors would lead him to err on the side of caution tonight.
I’d chatted to my flatmate and fellow runner Katie about my calves. She’d said I’d probably be fine, but to listen to my body just in case. Well, my body was exhausted and starving. But my mind knew I really needed to run off this day and stave off the tension headaches. And after all, I’d had some of my best runs on my worst days; the days when I really just wanted to sack it all off, eat a whole Victoria Sponge and fall asleep in front of Netflix.
Ben and I agreed to meet at his house, where we’d change into our kit, have a cup of tea and consider our options. Once I told him about my day, about the fact that nothing bad had happened but I was in a shitty mood anyway, we resolved to run. We’d have rather run 200m and decide to turn back than cop out all together.
Once we started running it was actually kind of alright. We stopped at our usual spot about 600m in to stretch thoroughly and then got on our way. The first mile was painful, not from my legs as I’d expected, but from my upper body. I was holding so much tension in my shoulders that I had sharp, stabbing pains that, thank god, eventually subsided. As we crossed Waterloo Bridge, I exclaimed ‘I hate running I hate running I hate running I hate running’ to a bemused but concurrent Ben.
But the time we got to the 5k marker, the Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace, all that pain was basically gone. The scenery certainly helped, and I ran to the palace and back, stopping to take pictures the whole time.
I was suddenly so appreciative of just how much I’d missed London, and running, that everything else just kind of disappeared. Ben sadly had to tag out after the Mall due to a calf strain, but we calculated that if he walked and I continued the loop, we’d end up at the flat around the same time.
After a lap of St. James’ Park, I crossed back over the river by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (selfies taken, obviously), and began to drag my (now very tired) arse back to the flat. Then I passed St Thomas’ Hospital, where I’d had heart surgery 9 years previously, and was again struck by gratitude, that I was now able to run without any worry whatsoever.
By the time I got back to the flat, it was a nice 7.4 miles. I felt great. We celebrated with eggs, foam rolling and ice baths.
I’m writing this to serve as a reminder to my future self that running is worth it, even on the shitty days. I slept like a log last night, and woke up feeling refreshed, productive, and most importantly, accomplished.
So thank you London, for being so bloody brilliant.
What do you do to motivate yourself on bad days? And when’s the last time you had a surprisingly great run?
Lots of love