Mind games in the final month

Jees Louise, I am tired. And it occurred to me that in my barefoot running, sunset snapping, unicorn pant wearing daily shares – that might not necessarily come across. So I thought I owed you all a little shot glass full of honesty.

The reality of entering the final month of a 6 month journey is…messy. My mind is a tangled web of thoughts, feelings and emotions – enough to give my hormonal 15 year old self run for her money. The only difference being that I can’t trudge up the stairs in my Airwalks, play Skunk Anasie at full volume and cry into my pillow.

MIND AND BOD

My bod is weary, and the wheels on this one-woman wagon are starting to fall off. My hips ache, my knees are ‘crunchy’ and I’m pretty sure that the vertebrae in my upper spine have given up on any form of salvation, opting instead to fuse themselves together in self defence. The tiny muscles that surround my shins are a tad upset too. I spend the first hour of each run wincing as I wait for them to pipe down. Then there’s the hot-spot on my left ankle, which I daren’t prod anymore. For each time I do, just to remind myself it hurts, guess what? It bloody hurts.

But I also believe this; pain is starting to rear its ugly head because I know I’m near the end. My body will keep going. It’s a running robot set to cruise control. I can run 30kms with a 14kg pack without a second thought, and I have to remind myself that this isn’t ‘normal’. That the first time I put 7 x 1kg bags of sugar in my pack and ran 5km, I nearly passed out.

THE REAL BATTLE

The real battle comes from the fact that I’m ready to be done. I’m ready to go home. I miss my family and my friends. I miss walking over Waterloo bridge at night, the curve of the Thames from Richmond hill, whizzing through Westminster on my bicycle – dodging angry cab drivers and absent minded tourists. I miss BBC Breakfast.

But I also know that I will miss this beautiful country and its wonderful people. I will miss the freedom and

Beloved BBC Breakfast

Beloved BBC Breakfast

simplicity of the trail, and the life that it allows me to lead. A life I will dream of next month, when I’m staring at my tattered trainers wondering where the be-jaysus to go from here.

As of two weeks ago, these two opposing trains of thought officially began to drive me nuts. Why on Earth would I wish away the final miles, only to savour them in hindsight? So I turned to the greatest tools in any mental armoury for a little assistance.

DENIAL

I’m often asked – “How do you run for hours every day?” To which I reply: “I tell myself lies.”

I just pretend that I only have to run for another hour. That is to say I tell my body that this is where ‘we’ll’ stop. The ridiculous truth being that I know full well that I’ve got another 6 hours after that. But ssssssh. Don’t tell….um…me? For some reason denial works like a charm.

So I tried treating this last month as if it were the start of the trip. “Woo! Let’s go McNuff. Hup! Hup! Hup! Nouveaux Zealandia here I come!” It held up for a day or two, then fell flat on its face. One level of denial too far for even my brain to cope with, it seems.

DISTRACTION

Denial having failed me, I tried to buddy up to my other friend, distraction. This comes in the form of stunning landscapes, kind hosts, fundraising, school talks or even a Skype with a girlfriend back home – where we spend an hour chatting about anything and everything except my run.

Alas I found that someone had stolen my bountiful distraction bucket and replaced it with a limp sieve. The things that buoy me, inspire me, spur me on – they now slip through the saggy perforated bottom faster than I can grasp on and use them to their fullest. And that makes me sad.

THE CHALLENGE

And then it hit me, like a thunder bolt (and lightning, very very frightening. Gallileo). The fact that I don’t know how the heck to deal with this fascinating mental battle – that is the challenge. Not the one I’d expected to face when I began, but a challenge nonetheless.

The question is no longer “Will my body give out?” Or  “Can I run that far?” Things could still go tits up on the physical side in these final weeks, after all. Instead It’s how do I make it to that lighthouse at Cape Reigna with eyes wide open – having enjoyed, relished and treasured every last drop of the journey?

And as far as can see, this is just about that best practice for ‘real life’ that I can get. I refuse to spend the final month waiting for the end to come, because it feels suspiciously like those working weeks where you live only for the weekend. And balls to those weeks, I say.

So buckle up adventure homies. I’m driving this tattered mass of weary limbs to the finish line, and we’ll darn well be stopping to smell the roses along the way.

More ramblings about those roses later in the week,

Big love,

Tired McNuff xx

Help me use this run to send some kids on a life changing adventure course here

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9 thoughts on “Mind games in the final month

  1. lazylauramaisey says:

    Respect to you and your running! I have nothing to offer on the mental side as I’m crap at that. The only thing that I do know when I’m running is that, no matter what’s going on, whether I feel brilliant or terrible, if I just keep moving while I’m thinking, my legs will get me there. The 10k will happen whether I’m having nice thoughts or horrible thoughts. So I just think my little thoughts and keep moving and my legs win out in the end.

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  2. Jason Stephens says:

    McNuff you are a plain and simple star of the highest order. Only you can know and feel what it is actually like to be on a ride such as this. You’ve probably heard the usual ‘oh you’re inspirational’ compliments a million times, but know this – you have a gazillion admirers who love hearing about this heck of a thing you’re doing and are sending you positive waves (man) from all the way around the world. Saviour the last month. Welcome it and make it your friend. Be grateful for it. You’ve earned every darn footstep. Laugh at it. Love it. Make peace with it. And don’t rush too much to get over it. xx

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  3. Barbara says:

    Anna, the mental part is super hard and it’s what you do, it’s what you’re good at and it’s what you’ll keep being okay at until the end. Another month may seem a long time, but remember that the last bit never counts! So that final week will fly by and those last kilometers will be like running with little unicorn wings. And that also means it’s only a few tough weeks and then it’s just an enjoyable final week!!
    I’m about to cycle the Styrkeproven next week and will be thinking of you on the way – when I start to feel a tiny bit tired I’ll think of how you inspire people to do crazy things, long things, hard things and mega challenges – just because it makes you feel absolutely super duper AWESOME! Keep running, you’re almost there xx

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    • Anna McNuff says:

      Thanks so much Barbara!!! Hope you smashed the Stykeproven!!! And that you’ve semi recovered by now. Eyes on the prize time here, baby steps along that big beach, wahoooo!!! See you back in Laaanndaaaannn town soon. Xxx

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  4. maia says:

    What a wonderfully authentic blog. Thank you for sharing.
    I’m sure you’ve received a 1000 motivating words by now. So from this end I’ll just say thank you for the inspiration and being a wonderful illustration of a strong female role model. Beyond valuable! Hang in there- and all the best.

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  5. Allison Kidd says:

    Hi Anna, We are feeling for you and hope that you can hang in there to the finish. The only suggestions we’ve got are maybe hum or sing along the way unless you can get someone to accompany you . We wish you all the best for the remaining kilometres and look forward to hearing that you have knocked the b………. off! Allison and Alex, Invercargill.

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    • Anna McNuff says:

      Ah thanks so much you two!!!! How much has happened since Bluff / Invercargill?!?! Goodness. I’m ready for that beach!!! I’ve got my happy face on and there ain’t no stopping these feet now. And good call on the singing… I shall be singing! Anna xxx

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