I love a nice chatty run with a friend. Cruising along, sharing news and enjoying the scenery, there’s nothing nicer. The thing is, although I really appreciate these happy runs, I know that one of the big things that running has given me is self-belief, the ability to rise to a challenge, to push myself and succeed. That was the major magic of the early days of running, when every run was so hard, when I didn’t know what I was capable of and it was a true journey of self-discovery. That was the power of running that led to life changing experiences for me.  

I do love that running can be whatever you need and want it to be. I’ve wallowed in the easy runs for ages and suddenly, with the onset of perimenopause I knew I needed more. The anxiety, low self-esteem and a feeling of loss of control that are common symptoms of the menopause were not making my life easy. I needed running to ‘do its thing’ and help me stay true to myself and not shrink as so many women in midlife seem to do. 

Last year, after a three-year break from marathons I decided to train for the Manchester Marathon. I’ve written about that at length before. It was probably my all-time biggest running success because I trained well and everything came together on the day. I couldn’t have run any better. It reminded me who I was and certainly stopped me thinking that perimenopause was the beginning of the end for my running journey. Now I’m back on the training wagon but this time for a half marathon. My focus is on building speed. I know I can easily build to the distance so the challenge this time is to ramp up the pace. 

The problem about training to run faster is that you have to run faster and that doesn’t feel good. I find myself feeling out of breath, heart racing and with internal voices telling me to STOP! It’s that sensation of being out of your comfort zone, it’s so much easier to just stay in it. Then there’s the fact that this is entirely voluntary. No one is telling me I have to do this. This is a goal I have set myself. I have placed my own bar. Why have I done that? Why don’t I just want to have a nice time and cruise round? I don’t think I can actually answer that! These things come from within. I’ve always had a drive to do better and be better. I’m sure there’s an underlying psychological reason but for me it’s just who I am. I want to make the most of this precious life I’ve been given and to fulfil my potential. I know that running can help me to do that. I want more of its magic.  

I’m trying to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To simply feel that feeling of pushing myself, to acknowledge it, to enjoy being in the zone where I know my fitness is improving. I need to not to be afraid of it. I’m fit and well, I’m not pushing myself to extremes by any stretch of the imagination but there’s still this protective mechanism that triggers and wants me to stop. It makes me feel panicky. I have to keep reassuring myself that it’s OK and I am safe, it’s meant to feel like this.  

I’ve found that starting with very short intervals of feeling uncomfortable, just 60 seconds and then building gradually on those has helped me to get my confidence. That’s how I felt as a new runner, unsure what would happen if I kept going. And now in perimenopause, when your sense of self and your confidence in your ability can drain away, this is certainly an interesting way to explore and test those feelings!  

 I know that many of the answers lie in the miles I will run on the journey to my next race. I may not have absolute faith in myself but I do have absolute faith in the power of running so let’s see what it’s going to unleash for me. In the meantime, I will endeavour to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

What is your experience of pushing yourself? What have you learned? Are you still feeling able to do that in perimenopause? 

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, here are some ways you can work with me: 

  • Sign up below for my weekly newsletter full of tips and encouragement on running and menopause.  
  • Register for my Run Through the Menopause online course – a comprehensive guide to help you understand what’s going on in your body and overcome the barriers the menopause can throw up. 
  • Book a free call to chat about my one to one, bespoke, midlife and menopause coaching packages. 

Featured image: Pexels 

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