Petestack Blog

17 May 2015

Balancing act

Filed under: Climbing,Cycling,Music,Running,Sailing,Walking,Work — admin @ 5:32 pm

Something I posted to Facebook a few hours ago that really deserves a more ‘permanent’ place here where anyone can read it. Facebook ‘friends’ can also read some nice responses over there. :-)

A strange tale of work/life balance, life/life balance, running, racing and depression…

As many of you know, 2015 was to be my last West Highland Way Race (with all the commitment that entails) before getting back to other things like fixing up the boat and doing more climbing. So I wanted to do well with 2014’s PW (personal worst) my main motivation for this final, final go. And my usual, slow-burning training build-up was starting to work with 22 modest running days on the trot through late January and early February before breaking the cycle for a windswept walking traverse of the Maoile Lunndaidh group and continuing more sporadically into March as frequently staying late to work with hitherto over-casual pupils started to mess with my routine and mind. At which point I found myself in the grip of a proper depressive episode (remember that ‘breaking point’ post?) as I saw no way of reconciling my work and play needs to provide the necessary platform for that satisfying final race and became angry knowing that the ‘prior’ claims of work would leave me forever feeling cheated here. But then my new boss told me I must run, to get home prompt one day and get straight out running, and we both agreed that running is the solution, not the problem (for which thank you, Rebecca!). After which I ran 40 from 46 days (proper runs!) through to that walking accident on the path to Carnmore and could have been looking at a respectable performance after all with a ‘big May’ to come. But now it’s all gone without killing off the Munros/Tops completion, I’ve been ambushed by a surprising sense of peace. In simultaneously really wanting and really not wanting to do that race again, it had *still* been getting me down, and it’s only now it’s gone *with work absolved from the blame* that something’s become clear; while running is still the solution (and will be again when the injury’s had some more recovery time), racing is part of the problem. Which is why there’s no going back on that ‘last year of running races’ thing despite the loss of the race that’s probably meant more to me than any other, and why you’ll *never* see me grace the starting line of that race again. It wasn’t just my work/life balance that was wrong but my life/life balance too, and the inexplicable accident that had me reduced to despair the night I did it has now proved to be the most effective depression cure yet!

If you got this far, well done, and thanks! :-)


  1. I have been thinking for some time now that preparing for long distance races prevents me from doing a lot of other “good stuff” . You have articulated the limitations of a determined/ narrow mindset which is necessary to do justice to these races. Part of the problem is having to enter these races so far in advance.
    I now run more for mental well being than the physical benefit and getting out is more important than a specific time in a specific race.
    Good luck with Slioch and enjoy your new found freedom.

    Comment by Paul Brown — 18 May 2015 @ 6:55 am

  2. ‘Part of the problem is having to enter these races so far in advance.’ Indeed, Paul… which is why I’d previously said:

    ‘So maybe (just maybe!) I might be tempted sometime to wander up to the start of something you can enter on the day for the fun of it, but my days of committing to races you have to enter months in advance are done.’

    But it’s clear from your whole comment that you get my whole post above! :-)

    Comment by admin — 18 May 2015 @ 6:19 pm

  3. Interesting thoughts Peter. Training “properly” for long distance running requires a dedication that, when you’re in the middle of it, seems quite natural and (most of the time) fun but, when you move back from it, you realise that it was getting a little obsessive and unhealthy. An incorrect life/life balance – I like it, you’ve summed it up perfectly there. I tend to think that depressive episodes fall at both ends of the spectrum – trying to fit too much in, life closes in on you whereas, too little running (or other exercise) badly affects moods and the chemical balance of the body. Good luck in finding the middle path. When you do, give me a nod will you?

    Comment by Richard Airlie-Gilbert — 2 June 2015 @ 4:38 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog powered by WordPress. Feedback to