I'm in a really good place with my training and running at the moment. I feel like I've reached a state of calm acceptance. Not so much about my stoma - I've never really had a problem with it - but rather about how it fits into my life and it's relation to my running and training.
To begin with, my instinct was to fight and be strong. I just wanted to 'get back' to where I'd been before and prove to the world it wasn't going to stop me. But over time (in June it will be 4 years since I first took ill), I've realised it's more healthy to accept things as they are and be content with where I am and not put too much pressure on myself.
For anyone else (especially athletes) going through anything similar - be it cancer, illness, trauma or after an accident or long standing injury - I think it's important to step back and try to forget the past and what you used to be able to do. Things have changed, your body has changed. There's a world of difference between 'giving up' and calmly 'accepting' where you're at and being at peace with it and moving on from there... possibly in a new - and even better - direction.
I've finally drawn a line in the sand and moved on. I don't need to prove anything to anyone or myself. I'm happy just pottering about, enjoying my running and training and having some fun races to take part in. I feel calm and proud of my achievements, rather than fighting for the next PB or beating myself up that I haven't achieved what I used to be able to do.
I'm coaching some fantastic clients training for spring marathons and getting as much enjoyment out of training them as I would myself. I've also decided not to take part in the London Marathon nor the Half Ironman I had my sights on later in the year. And I don't feel bad about it either! It's taken a while, but I'm finally there. Who knows what the future will hold and where it will take me. In itself that's exciting! I fancy some adventure racing, some orienteering, maybe some other mountain marathons and night races. Just fun stuff. What I have decided though is never to run a race that I've ever done before. Who needs that sort of comparison!? far too depressing.
Don't get me wrong, I still have some great events lined up, but there's no pressure or focus on PB's or time. I'm doing the Adidas Thunder Run with the Ostomy Lifestyle Athletes team - everyone in the team has a stoma - which is probably a first. The event is a 24 hour non-stop team relay where we have to run as many 10km laps as possible. It'll be great fun and a 'doable' challenge. I can't wait to be part of a team of likeminded folk who all understand what we've gone through to get where we are. I'm also doing the South Downs Relay marathon with my running group Sarah's Runners - again another team effort and focus on fun and enjoyment with some really lovely people. And in May I'm dressing up as a superhero to run 10km. No pressure, no PB hunting and no competition. That's what I need at the moment and I'm really happy with that.
The Kubler Ross curve sums up this process, but it's easy to forget it when you're in the middle of it. You may not be aware of the stage you're at, but it can be helpful to understand this natural reaction to shock/change/grief. This applies to bereavement, major life changes, tragic and traumatic events but also simple change in life, at work or in business.
And that is the fantastic thing about running. It can fit into your life and adapt with you as you go through various life challenges or changes. The trick however (and possibly the harder part) is to ALLOW it to adapt and use your running to support you rather than battling with it. Like the quote in the image above says:
'Surrender to what is, Let go of what was, Have faith in what will be'. Sonia Ricotti
And I think we can apply that to many areas of life actually, not just running.