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A single 6 months: What I’ve learnt

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”

Back in June, I wrote a very personal post about how I was feeling following the end of a toxic relationship. As June is nearly 6 months ago now (and 8 months after said relationship ended), I’m feeling reflective again (not unusual for me!) So I wanted to write a bit of an update of how I’m feeling now, 6 months on, and also an update of what I’ve achieved and learnt during this time.

The past 8 months have been difficult for me at times, but also a huge period of self development and growth that I think I really needed. You see, before the toxic relationship, I was in a relationship for 13 years, which suddenly ended. I found myself lost and confused following the end of this, and at the time, I felt like a part of me (and my life) had died.

As reaction to the split, I pretty much jumped into another relationship with somebody who just wasn’t right for me. At the time, it was what I thought I needed. It was fun and a welcome distraction from dealing with my pain. In a way, it helped me to get over what I had been through. But in focusing all my energy on this I was neglecting myself and stopping myself from dealing with what I needed to deal with.  Over the coming months, this new relationship quickly turned unhealthy and toxic.

There were many factors involved, but looking back,  I realise that at the time I had no self esteem and  limited personal boundaries, which meant that I lowered my standards and accepted behaviour that I really shouldn’t have accepted. Why? Because I was lonely and wanted to feel wanted.  I thought that a relationship, any relationship, would make me happy. I thought that it would fix me. But in reality, all it did was make me feel worse, much worse than before. I quickly realised that this new relationship couldn’t fix me or make me happy, this had to come from me. I also realised that it was better to be alone, even though this was a scary option, than be in a relationship that was unhealthy and making me ill. 

A part of me also felt like I hadn’t given myself time to get over the sudden end of the previous relationship and I started to feel suffocated and trapped.  After the toxic relationship ended, I struggled for a while. I blamed myself for the failure of yet another relationship. I thought that there must be something wrong with me.

As a result of all this, in June I decided to dedicate the rest of this year to myself. I decided to purposely and intentionally stay away from dating and relationships. Partly because I didn’t want to end up feeling trapped in that horrible scenario again, but also because I felt like I needed time to recover, learn about myself and grow as a person. Deal with feelings and emotions that I had been perhaps avoiding.

I hadn’t been single prior to this since I was 18 and I think as a result, I needed to find out who I was again, without having to worry about someone else.

And, over the last 6 months, this is just what I have done. I’m actually really proud of myself. Because now, rather than feeling lonely and having the urge to fill a void by dating, I actually quite like my own company. I don’t feel sad, or sorry for myself. I feel quite content. I can do what I want, when I want, which is quite liberating. Yes, there are times when it can be hard, like I’ve been quite poorly recently, and being alone during illness and having to do everything yourself is not exactly fun but overall,  this time to myself has made me more independent and stronger as a person.


SELF CARE & GROWTH

Daisy to represent personal growth

I’ve spent the last 6 months working on myself. I have made more time for self care by taking up yoga and meditation, making time for a candle-lit bubble baths and taking up reading again, which I used to love but for some reason stopped after the stress of everything. I have also been having counselling, which in all honestly, I think I’ve needed for a long time. I’ve started to read self help books and listen to inspiring and uplifting podcasts. It’s the little things like this that can make a real difference to your mental health and well-being.

As a result, I can honestly say that I’m a different person than I was a couple of years ago. I’ve had a lot of time to think and I’ve realised that, in a way, the long term relationship held me back. I relied on him for a lot and I think as a result, I lost a part of myself and my independence. Being alone has forced me to do things by myself and I feel quite liberated as a result. I think nothing of doing simple things like the weekly shop, driving myself places or even travelling abroad alone, all things which would have terrified me back then and I just wouldn’t have done. 


RUNNING

Parkrun alphabet challenge Phoenix

In terms of my running, I have recently started the Parkrun alphabet challenge, which I am doing with a fab group of people from my run club. Over the last 6 months, I have thrown myself into running and have taken part in loads of social activities with my run club. As a result, I’ve made a good group of friends, which means I always have someone to run with or go with to races or different Parkruns, so I don’t need to rely on a partner to fill this need. Over the last 6 months, we have been to many different Parkruns, including Northwich, Alderford Lake (Whitchurch), Phoneix (Runcorn), Glossop, The Wammy (Newcastle Under Lyme) and Jersey! In the last 6 months, I also reached the milestone of 50 Parkruns, which was one of my goals for this year. 

I absolutely love running and my run club and it has helped me immensely with my mental health and building up a good network of inspiring and adventurous friends on the same wavelength. 

RUN CLUB group photo

I’ve also managed to do the Three Peak Challenge and 3 half marathons in the last 8 months – Liverpool Rock and Roll, The Great North Run and Manchester Half in October. It would have been 4 but unfortunately I’ve been quite ill since the beginning of October so had to pull out of the Conway Half which I had planned for November.

GOODGYM

Another thing I started in the last 6 months is GoodGym, which I absolutely love. Basically, you run to a task (usually about a mile), which is something that will help the community and it could range from litter picking, cleaning or sorting food and clothes for the homeless. Then you run back. I love it because it combines my love of running with helping people and the community. Plus, it’s another chance to meet some amazing people and continue to build my friends and support network.


TRAVEL

Parkrun Poland

My goal this year was to travel alone in order to build my confidence and independence. I’m so proud that I managed to achieve this goal this year. In September, I went to Poland, completely alone, for a weekend to do a Parkrun abroad in Gdansk (and also threw in a bit of sight-seeing!).

Not only that, but I forced myself to stay in a hostel and go on tours (including a bar crawl) by myself. This was a MASSIVE challenge for me and looking back sometimes I can’t believe I actually did it.  But they do say, the choices that scare you are the ones that help you to grow and that’s so true.

I won’t lie, this trip was quite difficult for me at times, especially with the language barrier and feeling alone in an unknown city.  You realise how vulnerable you are at certain points (such as eating alone in a restaurant) and being alone did restrict what I did – for example, I didn’t really like walking alone at night and so I would go back to the hostel early. In other respects though, it taught me quite a few things and I met some really nice people at the Parkrun and on the Bar Crawl.    

I’m also proud that I went alone to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (5 hours drive away) to take part in The Great North Run. As this is a huge event, I didn’t want to turn my ballot place down because I had nobody to go with. As it happens, the running community and Instagram is a friendly place, and I managed to meet up with one of my Instagram friends whilst I was there who was also doing the race. I went on a race day package trip and stayed at the Newcastle University with other people doing the race so met some nice people and overall had a good experience. Although I did miss my run club friends and it was a bit lonely at the finish line, I am proud of myself for going on my own, and I smashed it in 2.03! 🙂  

Great North Run


So these are just some of the things I managed to achieve in my 6 months of self focus. I have definitely learnt a lot about myself and actually, I think they have turned into some of the best months of my life.

This year, through my run club, I have met so many different people who are inspiring and fun to be around and who push me to do more. This has had a massive benefit on me and inspires me to keep pushing and trying new things.

I have become stronger, more independent and a long way from the vulnerable, naive girl that I was 2 years ago. It’s true what they say, you really do grow and learn from what you go through and if it wasn’t for all the hard times, I wouldn’t be where I am now. 

I’m now happy on my own, I don’t NEED a relationship and I’m not looking either. I’m self sufficient, I make my own money, have my own flat, have a good social life a network of friends to run with, travel with etc. I think I am now in a much better and healthier place should I WANT a relationship in the future and I’m proud of what it’s taken me to get to this stage.  

If  you enjoyed this post, be sure to Follow me over on Instagram to keep up with my antics. 🙂


Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey

Parkrun Alphabet Challenge: Jersey!

Earlier this year, myself and a few others from my run club decided to take part in the Parkrun alphabet challenge. This is basically a challenge to complete a Parkrun for every letter of the alphabet. I love this idea because not only do we get to try some new Parkruns, which keeps it fun and interesting, we also get to see a few new places in the process. We started by doing a few of the different local Parkruns, then I decided to branch out further and went abroad in September to tackle Gdansk Parkrun in Poland. Then, on a bit of a whim one day, we decided to book a weekend away to complete Parkrun over in Jersey, as this is one of the main Parkruns to visit for the elusive J.

What I really love about this whole thing though, is somehow, I have managed to find a group of people as mad as me that will think nothing of booking a weekend away to complete a Parkrun. In fact they really enjoy it. I love this as it makes me feel like I have finally found my people after all these years of doing stuff like this by myself or feeling like I’m weird!

Anyway, I wanted to write a bit about the trip because it was so much fun, and I hope to do more trips like this over the coming months and years.


FRIDAY: EN-ROUTE TO PARKRUN

We set off for Manchester airport on Friday morning, the flight was mid morning and we expected to arrive around lunchtime, as it was only a short flight (about an hour). I was really excited about the whole thing, as I had never been to Jersey before and I was curious to see what it was like. There were 5 of us travelling together and we were meeting 2 others at the airport, so we had a good gang of us representing our run club!

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey

After a very quick flight, we arrived in Jersey and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel, which was just outside St Helier (where the Parkrun was) in a small coastal town called St Aubin. My first impressions of Jersey was that it was very quiet but pretty. The taxi driver proceeded to tell us how he didn’t like living there because it was so small that everyone knew everyone’s business! It did give off that “local” vibe to it, like if you weren’t a local, people knew and stared at you.  It was a very pretty place though, with a cute harbour, picturesque houses and windy side streets. It reminded me a little of Cornwall, and some of the fishing villages there. 

Our hotel was located on a bit of a cliff side and had amazing views of the bay. I thought it would be a lovely place to come in the summer but as we were out of season, and the weather wasn’t great, it was very quiet. 

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey

We had a bit of a wander around that afternoon and ventured into St Helier, which was a few miles down the road. There wasn’t really that much to see and the weather was terrible (wind and torrential rain) so after a bit of sightseeing, we ended up in the pub for a while (hard life!) before eating out at an amazing fish restaurant and getting an early night ready for Parkrun!

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey


SATURDAY: JERSEY PARKRUN DAY!

On the Saturday, we had a big breakfast at the hotel before grabbing a taxi across to St Helier for Parkrun. It was a very windy day, and several other Parkruns had been cancelled, so I think we were lucky that it was actually on after travelling all that way! Due to the rain the night before parts of the course were also flooded, but that didn’t stop us, just made it slightly more challenging. 

Jersey Parkrun takes place at Les Quennevais Sports Centre. There were two laps around the sports centre, which was on a concrete path, as well as a few trailly bits. It was mostly flat apart from a gradual hill right before the finish which was a bit of a killer! Overall, I really enjoyed it. But it was the whole experience I enjoyed, seeing a new place and meeting new people. 

Parkrun alphabet challenge - Jersey group shot

After Parkrun we went back to our hotel, showered and changed, checked out at 11am and then headed for lunch before getting our flight back in the afternoon. We were back home in time for the evening so it was a bit of a whistle stop tour and it did feel a bit surreal. I’d love to do more weekends though like this and try some different Parkruns in the process!

If  you enjoyed this post, be sure to Follow me over on Instagram to keep up with my antics. 🙂


N for Northwich Parkrun

Parkrun Alphabet Challenge: N = Northwich parkrun

One of my challenges this year is to start working my way through the Parkrun Alphabet challenge. For me, this is a fun way to try out some new Parkruns, whilst also seeing a bit more of the UK (and world!!)

There are quite a few different Parkruns locally to me (within say an hours drive) and so it seems sensible to tick these off the list first.

On Saturday, myself and one of my friends from my run club (who is also doing the challenge!) decided to try out Northwich Parkrun, so we could get our “N.”

I thought that going forwards, as part of this challenge I would write a short “review” of each of the Parkrun’s I complete. So, here goes… Northwich Parkrun!


Northwich Parkrun

Overall, I really enjoyed Northwich Parkrun.

Bearing in mind that I haven’t been to Parkrun in about 6 weeks (before yesterday) and so I was worried that I’d struggle. With this is mind I thought that I would just run at my own pace, and not push it. I want to enjoy running again and not be chasing a PB constantly, which is partly why I thought I’d start up this challenge.

Northwich Parkrun takes part in Carey Park and it’s about 40 mins drive from where I live so not too bad. There is a good car park with loads of spaces right by the start, which is always helpful, although it is £1 to park. There are also no toilets but you can use the ones in the Asda opposite.

The course starts on a narrow track so it takes a while to get going, as you can’t really overtake people.

Northwich parkrun 2

It was also quite muddy and slippy when we went as there had been heavy rain the day before. The course itself was good overall though as it was varied, with a mix of trail and concrete paths with views of the fields and cows. It also goes through a forest at one point (which is again quite a narrow path).

I wouldn’t say it was a PB course due to the parts where you can’t really get past people (and the terrain being mixed/slippy). There were also a couple of hilly bits so it wasn’t flat! 😀

Overall though, I enjoyed the variety and would probably do this one again. Even though we got soaked at the end walking back to the car when it tipped it down!!


Northwich Parkrun - Carey Park