I’d planned to go for a 40ish mile cycle this morning, had all the equipment ready and clothes set out. Forecast was cold but dry and far less breezy than of late – the weather, I mean, not me…
I usually leave at about 6.30am. This is so that I miss the heavy rush-hour traffic, and it gets it out of the way early in the day as well. My alarm went off…I got up, started panicking and shaking…and returned to the safety of my bed. So what happened?
I love cycling, well, most of the time. I slept badly last night, and I’m struggling with having a sort of hangover every day (I rarely drink these days). But the thought of being out was the worst sensation, and I’d worried about it all through my waking nocturnal hours. I tried not to think about it, but I kept having thoughts of the many cars and hefty lorries that skim far too closely past me at well over the 60mph limit on that road. For some inane reason, I was also concerned about the roads still being wet and slippy (especially one particular hill that’s also on a blind bend). I told myself that I would gym and swim later on, and tried to ignore the hefty critical voices in my head: “Oh my god! You’re useless! Other people manage it, why can’t you? Why can’t you just stick to your plans? Why are you so damn lazy? Useless lump…” and so on.
I was very aware that my day had started with a failure already. I try to be kinder to myself in my self-talk – after all, I wouldn’t speak to anyone else like that, not even in so-called jest – but I am so disappointed with myself at the moment. My career’s gone awry (that’s definitely had an impact on my self-esteem etc) but, over the last few years, I’ve managed to do at least two exercise sessions on most days. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’ve been used to early exercise sessions and have been training for up to 15 hours per week for months at a time – over the last seven years especially. I’m not saying that it was easy then, but somehow I managed to overcome/ignore my anxieties and nerves.
I did get to the gym and pool this morning, but it was a massive effort, and I realised I was shaking as I carried my bike down from my flat. The gym was busy and I felt utterly self-conscious. Telling myself that no one is likely to notice my shaking as they’re too wrapped up in their own thoughts achieved little to alleviate my acute anxiety. Still, I managed half an hour of weights. The swim wasn’t too bad, but my time is noticeably slower than usual. I’m managing to swim so infrequently at the mo’ that my interval sessions are put on the back-burner each time, while I try to get back to my usual ‘normal’ speeds. I tell myself that at least I’m swimming, and that I’m trying to get my endurance back. A few days ago, similarly shaking and nervous (and oddly light-headed), I swam in a different pool as I knew it was likely to be quiet. It was, and staff there were pleased to see me (I worked there yonks ago). I ended up swimming 7.5k over 2.5hours. Today I managed 5.25k over 1.75hours – really slow for me, although I did get out for the loo at one point! I don’t think that really makes much difference in my time, mind!
The pool wasn’t too busy, but I felt self-conscious swimming as well. And this is the sport that’s supposed to be ‘mine’, where I can lose myself and get into that state of flow. I persevered, and am glad I did it – but the self-talk now consists of, “Well, are you going to manage it tomorrow too? Or will you make plans and not stick to them – yet again…why can’t you simply be more reliable? No wonder you’ve failed in life!”.
I would love to do my exercise without all the nerves and anxiety. It saddens me greatly that I live like this, and that it’s afflicted me since I was at primary school. I do want to participate in other tri, running and swimming events again next year, and I can’t see how I will manage to do that – at least, I can’t see how I will replicate past successes – and I feel that I’m letting myself down badly.
I wish I could just do these things without all the attendant anxieties, stress and panic.