Something I am slowly learning, is the importance of being myself. It is inevitable that there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like you, someone who doesn’t agree with how you live your life, and someone who just has something to say about you. However, as sad as this is, it is simply part of life. Some people seem to like having something to say about other people, whether it be about your personality, appearance, or life choices, and usually, it isn’t the nicest comment. I am beginning to learn that I don’t need to be liked by everyone or appease everyone I meet, because this would only mean one thing, that I am not being true to myself. One of the most important things I believe you can be as an individual, is your unique self.
Enjoy time with those who care about you.
It sounds depressing, but life is short. It is definitely way too short to be trying to impress other people, especially those who don’t like what I represent. Instead of wasting time trying to get those who dislike me to like me, I believe, it is much better to spend that time and energy on the people who do like and care for me, and who are my true friends. If someone doesn’t like who I am, I probably don’t need them in my life, and if getting them to like me means changing who I am, we probably aren’t meant to be friends.
Not everyone needs to like you.
When I was younger, I wanted to be liked by everyone. I hated the feeling of having someone say something bad about me, as I’m sure most people do. I spent so much time trying to please others and gain their approval. This is still a trait that I possess today, as I never want to do wrong or let people down, but sometimes, I have to remind myself to stop worrying about it, because it’s exhausting. Whilst I may spend hours worrying if I said the right thing to that person or did the right for someone else, chances are they have forgotten what I said immediately. Other people don’t waste their time worrying about what I said to them, so why do I spend so much time worrying about what came out of my mouth? If a talkative person, who sometimes speaks before they have processed what they are saying, is who I am, as long as I don’t cause harm to anyone else, that’s fine. I should embrace who I am rather than beat myself up, and I shouldn’t feel the need to gain the approval of every soul I meet.
Importance of being yourself.
There will always be someone who does not like me, doesn’t agree with what I do, or just has something to say, but I am learning to let this go. The path I choose to follow in life, however “abnormal” it may seem to others, is up to me. It is important for me to learn to let this go because it only makes me question my decisions, when I don’t question those of others. We all have different personalities and ambitions in life, so we are all going to want different things, thus, we aren’t always going to understand why some people do what they do.
Ultimately, we are the ones who need to be able to live with ourselves and who we are. So, if I spend time trying to become someone else, someone who I probably don’t want to be, just to please someone else, I am only going to be letting myself down. If someone doesn’t like me, that is their problem not mine. As long as I am happy with the individual I am and go to sleep each night feeling as though I’ve been true to myself, then that is all that matters.
Why try to be someone else when we can be our own unique selves?
Before now, I had never really taken much time to contemplate what I feed my brain. I have always been conscious (at times more than is healthy) of what I put into my body. I eat what I want, when I want, but naturally I have quite a healthy diet, simply because I enjoy cooking, I am interested by food, and I have been brought up to cook from scratch. Whilst I am aware of the food I put into my body, I have never really thought about the effect of what I feed my brain, or what I actually expose my brain to.
Through many conversations with an incredible woman I know, my attention was brought towards being more aware of the food I feed my brain. When I analyse it, I feed my brain a lot of “mental junk food”; a lot more than is healthy! When I refer to “mental junk food”, I mean what goes into my brain that scrambles it and makes it feel heavy and blurry. We all have those things we look at or watch that trigger a negative mood. Whether that be a sad, destructive, grumpy, or quiet mood, there are certain things that don’t make us feel great (like eating too much junk food!).
For me, one of these things is Instagram. As I mention a lot on my blog, I do believe that Instagram holds a positive, powerful place in society, and in many aspects it is a great tool to use. For example, promoting or advertising products, following what your friends are up to, and allowing you to see pictures of those you rarely get to see in the flesh, as well as documenting your own journey, but it can also have negative impacts. Largely, this includes the likes of trolling, but it can also do self-inflicted damage. This is what I struggle with most. At times, I find myself pointlessly scrolling through Instagram, barely even looking at the images I am liking. I love being able to see other people’s successes, but when I am stressed, it can have a damaging effect on my brain. Predominantly, it causes my brain to tell me that I am not good enough and forces me into a place of comparison. For me, this isn’t healthy.
I am a much more level-headed, confident individual when I don’t see everything that other people are up to. I go into races knowing I have done all I can do be the strongest and fittest version of myself. However, when I have too much access to seeing the training of others, it’s as if my brain goes into self-destruct mode, even though I have done all I can to be the best version of myself on that day. Other people can’t influence what I do, and what they do has nothing to do with how fit I am, so logically, making myself feel as though I am not good enough is completely illogical. It doesn’t actually make sense as it has no physical effect on me. This is something I keep telling myself.
Like anything in life, it is all about moderation and balance. Exposing myself to the training and lives of other people via Instagram is great every now and then, it gives you that boost to keep working hard to be able to push against your opponents, but when used too much, it can have the same effect as an overload of junk food; it can make you feel groggy, cloudy, heavy-headed and negative, like eating too much rubbish food. So next time you go to ‘stalk’ someone or endlessly scroll through Instagram, think, is it going to be good for your brain, or is it complete “junk food”?
I have been writing my blog for a few years now and this got me thinking back to why I started it in the first place. I started writing at a time when I had running taken away from my life. I had just found out I had stress fractures in the tibia of both my legs and it was going to be a long road to recovery. I personally feel, as soon as runners get injured, they go off the face of the earth. They post daily on social media when running and racing is going great, and reveal none of what the injured life is like. If I’m completely honest, I would rather see the hard, determination that is required when injured than only have my feed filled with people’s amazing results. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to see people running and performing so well, but that is only one side of the story. Instagram, and other social media platforms, become sites to only document the good. I felt like no one else provided an insight into what life was like as an injured runner, so I wanted to openly talk about and document it.
To me, honesty is something I live by in everything I do. Whether it’s in running, everyday life, or how I communicate with others, I want to always be my genuine, honest self. Therefore, this is why I feel the need to not hide away from revealing the difficult times in relation to running, such as injury. I appreciate that a lot of the time, people who are injured, don’t want to spend time on social media, as they don’t want to see loads of people running happily on your feed, but I think it’s important when documenting your journey to show this. I find it too much to see everything other people are doing when I am running healthily, but I still believe being honest with those who do follow you is important. This is why I chose to shut off from what others were doing, and to not spend hours scrolling through other people’s photos, but instead to use it as a tool to document what injury was like for me.
How far I have come.
Something I find so powerful about having documented my thoughts and experiences through my blog, is being able to look back on it and reflect. I find it can be very easy to let myself become consumed in what I haven’t achieved and the drive of always wanting to improve and step forward, and not take the time to look back on the leaps I HAVE made.
If I ask myself, what would the Hannah who wrote the first blog article say about where the Hannah of today is? If I’m completely honest, I think she wouldn’t believe where I am. From hobbling around on crutches for 3 months, followed by 6 months of zero running, before another 3 months of walk/run sessions, to representing England a year later in October 2019 for the first time and again in January 2020, I think she would be shocked. I always put a lot of pressure on myself to improve, and I think most athletes do as they want to see where their potential lies, but sometimes it is nice to be able to look back and see the progress I have made. At times, I feel we don’t give ourselves and our bodies enough credit for all they have done. They are pretty tough and work hard, even when they’re tired, to achieve some amazing things.
This is the most rewarding, worthwhile aspect of writing about running and everything that comes with it. If I can achieve anything with my blog, I want to be able to help others recognise that they aren’t alone on their journey and that other people have difficulties too. I falsely believed that I was the only one with struggles, and I felt like the only person who had an injury at the time I was on crutches, but I wasn’t! Therefore, I want to help others avoid feeling how I did, by revealing the less picture perfect elements of being a runner, and writing about them! I want other runners, whether they be younger or older than me, to feel as though they can message me at anytime, about anything, even if they just want someone to chat to (because I love to chat!!). Running can be tough so why not help make it as enjoyable as possible for one another.
Ultimately, I feel documenting the entire journey is such an important thing to do, not just for myself, but for others too.
I personally think of myself as quite a positive person. In difficult situations, I always try to find the positives and work hard to convert negative thoughts into positive ones. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has down days and times at which being positive is a lot harder said than done, but if you consciously look for the positives, it will soon become second nature.
I had a time in my life where I lost this positive drive. I let my mind dwindle into a place of negativity and I accepted that was where I was stuck. However, I decided that was no longer where I wanted to be, and positivity is something I have worked hard to get back. I personally, truly feel that looking for the positives in every situation can have an immense impact on your daily life. Even in difficult times, such as those of coronavirus, there is always a positive to find. As the saying goes, ‘always look on the bright side of life’.
Make it habit.
You have to start somewhere, and if you start by consciously searching for the positives every day when you mind veers towards negativity, overtime, the conscious effort won’t be so noticeable anymore. This is where positivity becomes a habit. Every time you find yourself saying or thinking a negative, switch it into a positive or look for the upside in the situation or thought. For example, if it’s pouring with rain outside and you have a session today, rather than dwelling on how horrible it is, think how good training it is, because you could be faced with any sort of weather on race day, and see it as a positive challenge. You’ll surprise yourself with how liberating running in the rain and wind can be!
Positivity is contagious.
Being as positive an individual as you can be is an incredible way of setting a tone in your life and in others. Positivity is contagious! Being around positive people helps you feel much more upbeat and happier. If you are able to look on the bright side of life and search for the positives, you can help others feel better too! You will probably have more of an impact than you believe. Positivity has to start somewhere, and if you are able to encourage others to be positive by spreading some upbeat cheer, that’s great!
One of the major effects I have found, is how influential positivity can be on your approach to challenges. Whether that be in training or in general life, if you approach something that is possibly difficult or stretches you with positivity, you can surprise yourself at what you might be capable of achieving. Challenges aren’t something to be feared because you believe you aren’t strong enough, instead, they are opportunities to get stronger and take one step closer to achieving your goals. If anything, approaching a challenge with a negative mindset places a cap on what you can achieve, with positivity, anything is possible. You don’t know where your limits lie, so why set a barrier when you don’t actually know where it should go! Try to be positive and go into challenges headfirst with 100%.
We all have them. They come and they go, but they never stay away forever, and that’s ok. Everyone has demons that manifest themselves in different ways over different things at different times, but it’s how we deal with them that truly matters.
There was a time in my life, a few years ago, when I caved in at the presence of my demons. I couldn’t defeat or deal with them, so I let them defeat me. I didn’t know what to do to tackle them so I gave up; I let them win. By allowing them to overtake my life, it resulted in me restricting my eating.
I think an important part of dealing with the demons in your mind is firstly to accept that demons are part of life’s parcel. You aren’t alone in having to battle against them, we all have demons that resurface at different times and manifest in different ways. However, the key thing is to learn how to deal with them in constructive rather than destructive ways.
So, what do I do now?
When I feel the demons resurfacing, something that helps boost me is being positive in other aspects of my life. For example, listening to happy music, watching upbeat films or tv series, or putting more energy into my writing. If I encourage positivity throughout everything I do, it sets a tone for how I feel. Listening to cheery music as opposed to slow, deep music, always helps lift my mood and gets me to realise that I don’t need to be feeling low.
As an individual, I always try to be a positive person and look on the bright side of life. In every situation, no matter how bad it may seem, there is always a positive to be taken away. Whether that’s the negativity of coronavirus, we can be grateful for the extra time we’ve had to dedicate to other things, or the more time we’ve had at home with our parents. Whatever the situation, there is always a positive there! Even when the s*** hits the fan and you feel at rock bottom, there is something great to be taken from the situation... even if it is just that things can only improve from now. Don’t give up searching for the positives and your demons won’t take over!
Something I find incredibly powerful in helping you when the demons resurface, is talking about how you’re feeling. If you keep your worries and stresses to yourself it can be easy for them to manifest and become more of a problem than they actually need to be. Talking to others not only allows you to put your worries into perspective, but also, more often than not, you realise that somebody else has felt the exact same way as you have before. We aren’t the only ones who have demons to deal with, everyone does, we just don’t realise it! This will allow you to see that you aren’t alone! Everyone has their own battles to face, and by speaking about how you’re feeling, you may help them as well as yourself!
Defeating the demons when running.
Following a period of my life where I was severely undernourished, I had developed a lot of demons when running. This was simply because I was so weak and tired when I was running that I had come accustomed to feeling this way. Even when I had become a much stronger athlete, I still carried the demons I had when I was weak with me. It took a long time to erase these, and sometimes they do still crop up, but I have developed different ways of dealing with them. Firstly, I try to stop my mind from drifting. I do this by staying focused on the task at hand. This may mean focusing on each single rep, counting my strides or focusing on my technique. If I am able to keep my mind focused it prevents it from wondering off to a place where the demons surface!
It sounds cheesy, but I also work hard to remind myself that I am strong! This way, if any weak thoughts enter my mind and try to tell me that I’m not strong enough, I remind myself that I am no longer that weak athlete from before, I am instead a strong, positive runner. Whilst it may not work the first time, if I continually remind myself, a time comes where I am genuinely able to believe it!
So, with the tightening of restrictions in some areas and the reminder that coronavirus is very much still here, when you find it hard to remain positive, remember that we are all in this together, and you aren’t alone in the way you think. Look after yourself and look out for each other, because talking to someone else about your struggles might help them as much as it will help you. Also, stay active. Even if it feels a struggle, getting out the door, even if its just for a short walk, will do you the world of good!
I have learnt to accept that, maybe our demons can’t be defeated, but that’s ok, because it is how we deal with them that actually matters. If we can learn how to cope when they resurface, this will allow us to stay strong in all situation
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!