Bonjourno, tapping in from a cosy apartment in Chamonix, a French greeting seemed most fitting.
I’m not here to apologise for the lack of blog posts as blogging isn’t my life and sometimes it’s important to focus on the minute daily tasks we’re faced with such as turning up to work on time, fitting in training and packing as much into the day as physically possible. However, with a few days break and purposely avoiding all adult responsibilities, I thought it was about time I reached out to the keyboard and got some thoughts flowing.
Reflecting back over the last couple of months, it’s safe to say, there were stressful times, busy times, a lot of change and some fairly grim weather. As most people would agree, the prospect of Spring just around the corner is quite comforting although I’ve found I’m nortorious for constantly looking ahead and never stopping to appreciate the moment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be proactive and look ahead to where you want to be in a few weeks/months time however, to work out how to get to this point, it’s important to appreciate where you currently stand. And so this post is dedicated to right now, this week and appreciating the small things.
After counting down the days, hours and minutes until leaving work last Friday, it wasn’t much longer until I jumped on a train back to Manchester. My dad was waiting at the train station with a warming hug and we had our usual 30min natter for the duration of the drive home, which basically involves me elaborating on every snippet of text message I’ve sent him or my mother for the last few weeks. Arriving at the front door, I’ve opened and closed everyday from the age of 5, it’s easy to see why I still call it home. Never have I appreciated more, the short stops at home, since embarking on my London adventure. My parallel working life in the big smoke is a whirlwind of non-stop, no-rest, busy, jam-packed days. Yet the fast pace becomes almost addictive and despite the difficulty of saying goodbye to my family, there’s an inner drive which makes me get back on the train to London every time.
Waking up in my own bed, rolling down the stairs to rustle up a wholesome pancake breakfast, and spending the morning packing for a little adventure with my mother, our lazy Sunday had got off to a great start. With an invitation for puppy dates and cupcakes, I decided to throw on my trainers and get my run done for the day. It all sounds idyllic so far, yes? Here’s where the bottle spins; icy rain lashing down outside and strong winds blowing up the valley. Does it stop me, no, not today. Shorts, compression socks and a long sleeve tee, probably not the most sensible of kit choice considering the near zero degree temperature but hey, I’m still Northern. Within 5 minutes, my t-shirt was sodden and sticking to my skin, my legs were bright pink, possibly from some sort of ice burn and I had rain flowing down my face. Do you know those runs that actually make you want to cry, sobbing silently, hoping the end destination appears right in front of you? I expected this run to be one of those, yet surprisingly, the only tears were from the rain. I recognised in that moment, that 1. I’m not injured, 2. My body is strong enough to battle the elements and 3. For the first time in weeks, my head actually felt clear. Bliss, I tell you.
The next few hours entailed the best therapy I’ve received in years. Already on a runners high, when my sister and her cocker spaniel puppy, Toby, came to visit, my heart melted. As anyone that knows me well can tell, I’m not the most fond of dogs. Following years of severe dog allergies and numerous encounters of barking/attacking canines whilst running, my usual response to a dog would be ‘ugh’. Yet this little pup could melt a heart of stone; it’s playful, giddy, energetic character coupled with the most overwhelming bright green eyes was more than enough to win me over. I encourage anyone in need of a little love and attention to spend the afternoon with a puppy. Happiness x 1million.
What Monday morning blues? The only time rising at 5am at ease occurs is if you’re off to the airport (or if Prince Charming has swung by at 5am, but that didn’t happen). Side by side with my wonderful mother, we boarded the 8:25am flight to Geneva, stocked up with snacks, magazines, books, water and all in-flight essentials for the mammoth 2hour journey. Following this, a spin into France and up the valley to Chamonix, saw us nicely to the door of our apartment for the week, via a shot of coffee from a deli across the road. Holiday, and breatheeeeee.
Holidays; for me are a break, a rest period where I can enjoy the daily rituals of training in new surroundings, with different scenery and alternating terrain, inbetween napping like an absolute pro and feeling no pressure to actually do or see anything. I use it as an escape. I use my phone heavily for social media and documenting my day as oppose to checking in on emails, missed calls and messages. And finally spending quality time with my mum. She’s a nutter, but I love her and wouldn’t want her any different.
And so seeking out healthy cafes, delis and wholefood stores to fuel the daily adventures as well as stocking up on French chocolate, BIG chocolate chip cookies and fresh bread from local patesseries, it’s easy to fill in the time inbetween training sessions. One thing I love about travelling to new places is experiencing the local cuisines and culture. If it means eating 6 garlic snails and a whole plate of beef accompanied with chips, then so be it. In this moment, I appreciate the fact I’ve found balance in my diet; I’ll eat chips, beef, cookies, hot chocolate, pain aux chocolat anything else you put on a plate in front of me without feeling guilty. I’m on holiday and I’m running close to 10miles a day; but actually, I don’t need to reason it. I may go to bed with a stomach the size of a baby elephant but I’m happy and that’s what matters.
From where I stand.
Looking ahead, in fact, no, let’s not even look ahead. Right now, I’m sat in a cosy apartment, overlooking the baby ski slopes of Chamonix. I’m happy. I feel at one with myself and with the world. I have a belly full of comforting food, I have legs that can carry me through the snow and I have a family that support me through every high and and low in life. Not everything is perfect, in fact nothing is perfect but things are the best they can be at this given time and that’s what matters. It’s easy to get carried away on what seems to be the rollercoaster of life but when you stop and take in the moment, you can grasp full control over it and appreciate where you currently are and how you got here. Running through the snow, looking up to the vast mountains above and crunching along to your own breath can conjure up some serious thinking time but additionally letting go of all the thoughts and feelings, draining every last ounce out of your mind and running with a clear head is a great way to see the world.
I have vision, I have dreams and I have realistic expectations, yet it’s only what I did yesterday, today and will do tomorrow that are the building blocks for where I want to be. I think it’s important at times to strip life back to your current location, position and appreciate every little aspect that makes getting up in the morning that little bit easier. There will always be difficult days when getting out of bed seems more impossible than climbing Everest, but in that given moment, getting out of bed may be the biggest accomplishment of the week. Keep it real.
Peace from the Chamonix valley, Sal x