Monday, 8 August 2016

Negative Nora

Have you met Negative Nora?  She's a new friend, who comes out with me when I go running.  Which would be fine, except she doesn't like running much, or rather, she doesn't like me running very much.

Every time I set out just lately she appears with absolutely no warning.  "You can't do this" she shouts.  "You are exhausted, stop!".

Nora makes me wonder why I run.  Why do I bother, when I know I'm not really getting any better at it?

She is also really good at interpreting my parkrun times. "What do you think you are doing here?  See all these people, they have club vests.  They are proper runners.  Not like you.  You can't run fast, just look at your time from last week.  You can't run well.  This is why you are injured.  Maybe you should walk it today instead?  Oh, and start at the back where you belong."

I think she may have a point.  So, every week I position myself somewhere near the back.

Nora doesn't just appear when I run.  Sometimes she visits me at home.  Like a good friend popping in for a cuppa.

"Oh, haven't you done any housework this week?  That's a big pile of laundry, why haven't you ironed it?  What about your children, it's the holidays, shouldn't you be taking them out somewhere?"

Nora likes Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.  She likes all the people there with beautiful homes, people who take their children on fabulous holidays and people who are actually good at their hobbies.

Nora says I'm very selfish for ignoring all my real responsibilities.  I'm also a terrible wife for leaving my family to it while I enjoy my increasingly long training runs.  She says that my husband will be in a bad mood with me if I don't get home quickly, and all my children will remember this for the rest of their lives as the time mum cared more about a 13.1 mile race than she did about them.

Nora makes me feel very guilty indeed.  But what if she's right?

Then, this weekend, something changed in me.  At parkrun I got chatting to a couple of other parkrunners before the start.  One was wearing a club vest and his PB was similar to mine.  We both decided to run with the 31 minute pacer (although Nora mentioned that it would be OK if I just stayed a few places behind, like last time, because I couldn't catch up).

So that's what I did.  All the time not quite catching up.  It was a hot day and I found the run hard.  Nora said I should probably aim for a 32 minute run.  Take it easy.  "You don't want to hurt your foot again do you?"  But, my foot felt fine.  Actually better than fine.  So much so that at the final turn for the finish I could see the 31 minute pacer.  Nora was shouting at me "No! Stay behind the pacer, she is a proper club runner, not a pretends one like you".  "But I've worked hard to get this close," I said, "I can do this!"

So instead of tucking in behind someone with a slower pace like I usually do, I ran past them.  I ran past them all and then...

I sprinted past the pacer.  Me!  Nora had given up.  She couldn't keep up with me.

Afterwards, when Nora had regained her power of speech, she said I should probably go straight home. Before my family missed me.  So off I went.

At home, the teenagers had only just woken up.  The teen girl gave me a (very random) high five and asked me how I'd got on.  DH was mowing the lawn and minding his own business.  Actually, come to think of it, nobody had died and they all seemed pretty happy although there was still a big pile of laundry in the corner of the bedroom. Twin girl asked me when I was going to get her some new trainers "so I can go running with you mum". Then my mum sent me a text, telling me how proud she was of me (more random, but nice all the same).

It was at this moment that I realised what an idiot I had been by listening to Nora.  Nora, who is no more than a voice in my head.  Telling me how I think I ought to behave.

The thing is this has nothing particularly to do with running, I reckon we all have a Negative Nora in our heads from time to time.

It's really easy to get sucked in to what we see on social media, how we think our houses, families and lives should be.  But, life really isn't like that, is it?

Comparison is the thief of joy.  It really is.

And as for Nora?  Well, I suppose this won't be the last I hear from her, it's normal to doubt yourself from time to time (and she's great at school gate mummy guilt as it goes), but I'm glad we've had words.  It's cleared the air.

My post parkrun breakfast, not Nora's.
Probably not Pinterest-worthy but it tasted nice.


  1. Brilliant and well done you. I envy your running so if you love it do it.

    1. Thanks Lorraine, I do love it but the guilt is awful sometimes! x

  2. Hooray! Sod off, Nora! I know what you mean about the guilt. Despite the fact that my eldest is 15, I can't leave all three of my kids alone at home together for more than 30 minutes as they will fight, so my husband has to be around when I go for long runs in the holidays. But I stick to my guns because he's just done a 100 mile bike ride, so I think I can take priority with the training for a few weeks now!

    1. Yes, I have this issue too. I'm doing my long runs at the weekends but it doesn't help much with the guilt (parkrun Sat, LSR Sun). You are right though, Nora can sod off!


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