Small tasks, busy mind.

I was half tempted this week to temporarily change the title of my blog to My Indoor Living Room, but realised that this is a nightmare to do, and also that the indoor living room is exactly what I’m trying to escape. I read a very interesting post on social media by one of the few famous people I take seriously enough to respect, and he talked about making choices during lockdown as well as life in general, choosing to do what you should do as opposed to what you feel like doing. So, think of the dilemma of setting your alarm for a 5am run. Then the alarm goes off and the urge to hit snooze is overwhelming. He used a phrase about choosing to meditate than to contaminate his mind with nonsense from social media, the internet in general, and this blog of course. Just read to the end of this post though, and I promise there’ll be a meme of a cat. It made me think about what I’m doing during all this to cope, so I wanted to share a few things that are keeping me going. There have been some incredibly tough moments, mainly to do with my situation and my mental health has taken a few beatings in the past month, so I naturally do what I have trained myself to do – I make an island of myself. I find activities for me to do to keep my head above water. A well known saying that goes something like, “A drowning man cannot save another man from drowning”, dispelling theories of selfish behaviour to a degree. So in order to be all that I can be for others, I need to take care of myself for a while. The world seems to spin fine without me, and most people seem just as happy with me out of the way, so I just focus on finding a place within myself.

One way I do this is setting myself small challenges. Right at this moment in time, I have (mostly physical) challenges going on like seeing how fast I can sprint up a hill I’ve found. Or seeing if I can complete a song doing push ups throughout, seeing if I can complete different fitness tests, and also seeing how low I can get my resting heart rate. I’m also closely monitoring the progress of an oak tree sapling in the garden, and the speed of the decomposition of my compost heap. It’s safe to say I’m busy with lots of things. But lots of little things help me stay on track and stay occupied.

Whilst lockdown has presented problems as well as opportunities to  improve areas of my life, I have generally fared better than the daily grind of commuting and stultifying office environments. It’s made me seriously think about my future, the people I work for (and question their ethics), and showed me hope that something alternative exists.

I do hope that you are all well and coping. I also hope that when we come out of this, all of the promises about the future and regrets about the past that I am seeing on social media are followed through and are not just empty hashtags. This really is an opportunity.

Dan Fance

From reading previous blog ramblings of mine, you’ll probably see a few references to me running with a weighted military backpack (Bergen) and why I do it. Not sure if there’s a better reason to go back through my posts and feast your eyes. I’ve probably mentioned that it’s largely training for an organised event called the Fan Dance, which is a civilian version of one of the key test marches for the UK Special Forces.

It is called the Fan Dance because it is held, like the real thing, in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, and involves summiting the mountain Pen Y Fan twice, which is the highest peak in the south of England and Wales. Typically, the course is 15 miles (24km) and is out and back (along the same route each way, not circular). Recruits are given 4 hours in which to complete the march and pass it. It is probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not keen on the muddy obstacle courses. They’re fairly boring and most allow you to skip some of the obstacles if you can’t do them, usually with a penalty. There is no choice with this march. You either complete it – or withdraw. No halfway house.

I have completed this event twice, in 2014 and 2016. The closest I have got to 4 hours is about 4 hours 15 minutes. Close but no vape. I’ve said on numerous occasions that I’d keep doing it until one of two things happened: One, I pass; two, I die. I don’t intend on trying number two anytime soon so let’s try number one shall we?

Having trouble sleeping the other night, I took the plunge and entered the event. I did quite a lot of training before Christmas, but haven’t done a hell of a lot since, so the effort level needs to be ramped right up. Possibly until it’s flipping vertical. I always forget, I was younger when I did it last and it’s harder to train these days. I train for so many different events I think I probably spread myself a little too thin across the disciplines.

Yesterday morning, instead of doing my customary Tuesday hell-for-leather 10k blast, I put my boots on, grabbed my Bergen and went out and did some hill repeats. It’s a start. I think getting inspired is a huge push to help you to get motivated for anything, so this will be no different. I’ll be hoping to get that click where it all drops into place and becomes easier. I also need to sleep better. It’s dangerous for entering races I’m not quite ready for.