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Listen To Your Body: It Knows You Best 🖤 / FINALLY Running a Sub-4 Minute KM! 💥🏃🏻‍♀️

Happy New Year guys! 🥰🎉

I’ve made a number of resolutions this year. They range from dedicating more time to my next novel, to figuring out how to work alongside Alexa to ensure a sudden 'mystery' power outage in my house every time Manchester City are playing...

My main resolution, though, is to listen to my body more.

December 2022 was my highest mileage month of the whole year. By Boxing Day, my body was starting to feel a little worse for wear.

I absolutely LOVE running and there’s very rarely a time that I don’t want to be out there pounding along, headphones blaring, in that blissful, endorphin-fuelled world of my own. But sometimes, my body just can’t keep up with my fervour!

One of my downfalls is that I rarely allow my body a ‘rest day’ inbetween running, which I know is wrong and very detrimental. I’ll maybe have one day off a week, but even then I’m usually hiking or zipping up and down, to and from work on foot. Maybe it’s a part of my anorexia, but I just never really feel like I deserve a 'lazy day.' If I’m ever forced to sit still for 24 hours, I feel hugely unproductive and wind up feeling seriously irritable.

The tall tale sign that I need to rein my exercise in a bit is the onset of stiffness and pain in my knees, which hit me full force the day after Boxing Day.

I bit the bullet and actually didn’t run between the 27th and 30th December, which was a pretty big deal for me!

The whole 'not running' thing is something I really struggle with, but I pushed my anxiety aside and threw myself into enjoying the festivities instead.

On Year’s Eve, I felt fresh after my three days of rest, and as a conseqnce, I ran my fastest ever non-competitive half marathon time!

My overall half marathon PB is 01:32 - achieved in Brussels in October 2022 - however I have never broken 01:39 in solo training.

I had to navigate roads, hills and solidarity, but I actually ran my NYE half marathon in 01:38! My splits revealed that I had run a number of kilometres in 4:37 each, which I felt was a pretty decent pace for 13 miles.

It was a bitterly cold day, and just under two hours of running had dried my mouth out no end. I literally couldn’t string a sentence together without it coming out all lisped and indistinguishable. 🤣

Jossssssssssh!!!!” I lisped, crashing through the front door. “IgotssssssmyPB!!!!”

It really does go to show what the body is capable of when treated with respect. I allowed it those extra days of rest to recuperate, and in return, I was rewarded with a magnificent run!

It was the high I needed to carry me into the new year.

One of my running goals for 2023 was to run a sub-4 minute kilometre.

I mean, I think I must have done this at least once or twice before, given my 5k PB is 20:32 and my 10k 40:24, but I never actually record my split paces during races.

Like a lot of runners, I go considerably faster when in a group, so my solo training times are significantly slower than my event results. For example, my standard 10k time when running on my own is between 48 and 50 minutes, whereas I tend to run between 40 and 43 minutes at races.

On Friday 6th January – at the end of a 110km week – I set out for a 6k ‘recovery run.’ Despite the week’s high mileage, I was fizzing with lots of excess energy.

I took my first two kilometres steadily, reminding myself that this was supposed to be a recovery run.

At 3k, I hit a flat bit of road and just knew I had a lot more to give. I compromised with myself that I’d sprint the full kilometre, before regaining a slower pace. I surged forwards and allowed my legs to just skim the ground.

There was that euphoric sensation again... It's hard to describe what happens during those moments when I run full force; it’s a feeling that I can liken to no other.

You know when the plane accelerates and glides across the runway and snakes into the sky with heart-stopping grace? That's kind of how it feels.

Reality is temporarily suspended in gravity. It's a rush of blood to the head, as my heart ascends. The adrenaline is insane.

The world around me just ebbs out into nothingness and my only focus becomes the rhythm of my body. Every single part of my body feels the impact of running fast, and the result is a chorus of perfect symmetry.

As I passed over into my fourth kilometre, I checked my split for my third... 3:57!!! 🎉😍 Oh my Goddddd, I’d done it!

And while aware that I had been running a rapid rate, the pace hadn’t taken too much out of me. I wasn’t gasping for air, nor did my body protest.

It’s filled me with confidence and curiosity in terms of focusing my training on speed work for the season ahead. I WILL get that sub-20 5k and sub-40 10k if it takes me the best part of a decade!

I can honestly attribute my recent running success to the fact that I adequately rested and fuelled my body throughout December.

My body really does know me best, even if I have estranged it over the past eight year.

I am so looking forward to the 2023 running season! I have some new races to compete in, as well as some of my old faves, including the Alderley Edge Bypass 10k, the Marple 10k Trail Run and the Stockport 10 Mile. I am also competing in a half marathon overseas again in June – I can’t wait!

This year, I want to contuine to learn the language of my body. The stronger the bond with my body, the more resilient wet are together against the wrath of anorexia.

I aim to make 2023 a year of celebration for my body and I, rather than another year of loathing and despair.

I think proudly of the things my body has achieved over the past few years in terms of running... It's changed everything.

I've seen first hand the benefits of correctly fuelling my body and this is something I'm keen to build on. No more starving myself and then expecting my body to bring home the glory in return. My fear of food needs further work, but I know that with running by my side, I can be victorious - slowly but surely.

Running provides the self-discipline my anorexia makes me crave, but in the best possible way.

This year, I want to go out for meals more and actually enjoy the experience. I want to be able to accept a spontaneous offer of a meal out rather than it absolutely filling me with dread.

Josh and I plan to cook more from scratch and try some new recipes together. (God help him - I don't think he's quite over my 'honey spaghetti surprise' dish yet... the 'surprise' was that it was totally inedible 🤣)

I hope all of these things positively nurture my relationship with food.

Another small victory - a spontaneous lunch out last week 😍 Usually, unplanned meals out equal a disruption to my strict routine, and are therefore the source of crippling panic.

Another of my resolutions for 2023 is to finally get behind the wheel.

I've always managed perfectly well without a car and am more than happy to rely on my legs to get me places, however, not driving is no longer an option for me, what with the constant train strikes.

People ask me if I'm nervous about driving. It's not the actual driving itself that scares me, but the reduction of my daily mileage - on foot

For so long, my anorexia has been the main reason that I have refused to get on the road. Sometimes, I wish people knew the extent of anorexia's control and how it can affect even the most simple of factors.

Part of my commute is done on foot, meaning I have already walked 5k even before I head out for my run.

I think it probably goes without saying that, true to my illness, I'm quite obsessive about the number of steps I cover. Driving will almost definitely result in a lessening of my steps, but I can't allow this worry to hold me back.

Driving will present me with so many more opportunities, including being able to get to different running events.

I'm ready! (Giving you all a light warning here so you can get off the roads sharpish - I'm 99.9% sure that I'm going to be an absolutely HORRIFIC driver 🤣 When I was little, I had a remote control Jeep and I couldn't even handle that, so yeah, not optimistic...!!)

"Have you thought about what car you want when you pass?" Josh asked me the other day.

"Yeah, a black Jaguar S-Type with gold wheel trims," I replied without missing a beat. "Or a burgundy Alfa Romeo."

I mean, who am I kidding, really? 🤣 The other day, I went to 3 different supermarkets simply to compare the price of vegetable stock cubes. The difference was literally 3p, but I was very smug with my saving. 🤣

Here's to 2023! 🎉❤️

Another weight gain update.. I'm so so pleased that I'm getting 'my' face back. The gaunt look is slowly disappearing and my cheeks are filling out again 😊 (and yeah, that absolutely IS my dressing gown in the pic on the right... Was watching Harry Potter after work 🤣)

Cara Jasmine Bradley


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