A year ago I chose to leave my job. It was a good job and I earned enough to pay the rent, go out a little, buy a little and have a little left over at the end of the month. I was aware that I was lucky to be in this position. Many people had lost their jobs during the recession and struggled to find new ones.
I could have stayed. Convention and society tells us that we should work, full time (barring time taken off to raise children) for our entire adult lives. It is a big part of the reason that so many young adults take a gap year nowadays. That last chunk of freedom before committing to the responsibilities of adulthood.
Perhaps I should have stayed. But I was no longer happy. Bob’s suicide the year before had changed my perspective. I have written before about my reasons for leaving but the easiest way to explain it is that I needed to redecorate my life. The rooms needed to look different so that the same old memories did not keep coming back.
And now? It is working. I have regained balance. By that I don’t mean that life is always easy and peachy but it is so much happier. I work three days a week. I earn a lot less than I used to. This means I have to watch my money very carefully. I can’t do everything I want to do or buy everything I want to buy but how many people can truly say they can? In my experience the more I have the more I realise I ‘need’ to buy.
The great outdoors is my gym and it is free! I joined a gym briefly after Bob died, just to fill the empty hours. But it just didn’t hold my interest. I would happily go along to a gym once or twice a month but the membership deals don’t really suit that sort of frequency. So I stick with being a fair weather cyclist and an all weather runner.
Running is a fairly cheap sport. You don’t have to spend money to get to the start – although day trips to the Peak District are getting more common now the ultra run training has ramped up – and you don’t really need masses of gear. My trail shoes are bought on eBay; you can always rely on someone to have bought the wrong size for them-self and be selling them on. My running backpack was a Christmas gift and my, fairly basic, Garmin watch is perfectly adequate at recording my runs.
Having those two extra days off work gives me the luxury of a flexible lifestyle. I can run whenever I want to. Although I tend to spend those two days getting all the household chores and cooking out of the way, so that I can enjoy spending time with family and friends at the weekend. Just before writing this I was cleaning bathrooms with a super attractive face-pack on!
At the beginning of the year I had feared that I wouldn’t be able to run the ultra. A niggling hip problem that just would not go away had stopped me in my tracks. I genuinely was starting to believe that my body could not take more than 10km runs and that age and wear and tear were closing in on me. So it was a huge relief when I went to see a physio and had my way of thinking completely changed around. My hip damage was not structural but the pain had taken control of my mind and I needed to strengthen both the hip and my thinking to get running again. So a big thank you to Matt Buckley at Radcliffe Physiotherapy (Twitter: @RPCROT) for his help with that!
And it worked! The last four weekends my minimum long run has been 14 miles, usually with a couple of thousand feet of ascent. My average weekly running distance has shot up to 29 miles. I have just plotted an 18 miler for next Saturday with 4000ft of ascent…gulp! If anyone wants to join me they are more than welcome, but they must run slowly!
I am loving it. Loving where my feet take me. Loving hours in the Peaks with my sister in law; trying to work out where we are and where we need to be going. Loving the lung bursting ascents and the amazing views when you finally get to the top (I mean how many false summits can one hill have?!). Loving the feeling of getting fitter and stronger. And loving the support from my partner; who in turn is loving me disappearing for hours on foot so he can get out on his bike!
I can beat myself up about pretty much anything; whether I am loud and annoying, whether I have upset someone, the way I look etc. So I regularly question whether I am doing the right thing when almost everyone else seems to be doing differently? Am I being selfish to give myself this life. But I think the answer comes from my quality of life. I cannot lie for hours in bed or sit watching TV all day. I know that I am privileged to have extra life hours and I love using them!
I am careful, of course, to earn enough that I can save for more adventures! My savings have always gone on travel and adventure instead of saving for deposits on houses or buying nice expensive cars. We are all different and have different priorities in life. Mine is to enjoy now. Always enjoy now.
Time is precious.
I now mainly write on my new blog; An Adventurous Girl. I would love it if you would join me there by clicking here.