A Racing the Reaper Man Year: November 2021

November became a month where I was hit with a modern health problem – poor mental health. After 22 months of managing all things coronavirus-related, the possibility of a new variant in the winter period became a reality. My in-depth preparation for reducing such risk to the workforce, along with other duties, meant I’d finally started to show signs of stress. A few colleagues had noticed, but keeping people safe has always been my professional priority. I naively let my own wellbeing take a back seat. I was running well enough, but without a solid, new goal to aim for, barring a 5k in December, I found myself completely engrossed in work, some weeks being in front of the computer for 60 hours. Such is the gravity-well of an uncontrolled, thankless corporate life. It was only at the end of the month that I realised I had broken one of my main, Racing the Reaper Man Year rules – never let work encroach upon one’s everyday private life.

Normally I could run and switch off, but somewhere in November, unnoticed by me, I had slipped over the stress-event-horizon and was showing signs of burnout. My running remained easy and my body was still lean. I ran strong 10 and 12 milers in the month, extending my streak to 339 days, but my running log started to show my problems. Booze had crept back in. After October’s 50k success, I had started to alleviate my increasing work pressures by drinking more wine. Finally, during a short break on the Isle of Portland, I went down with a virus for the first time in 2 years (fortunately, it was not Covid-19) a sure sign things were very wrong. I decided not to run the December 5k and to concentrate instead on sifting out unhealthy habits. The only plus in all this was having more data to show the deleterious affect of alcohol.

Running at Portland, Chesil Beach behind me

By month’s end, I was still lighter than my end-of-year target, but my mental health was under terrible strain. In addition, a prostate issue, with me since 2016, was causing ever-greater discomfort, so I would have to have an MRI scan to see what was brewing. Family problems, normally taken in my stride, became huge in my mind. I was losing sleep, transfixed by work and desperately trying to hold everything together.

I had slipped over the stress-event-horizon and was showing signs of burnout

The odd thing was, running was still easy – of course, it was my only stress-relief. Core work remained important, too: I shaved my 10 x 60m sprint average times to 11.39 seconds. The shorter days meant I was running into sunsets once more. I’ll never tire of watching the Earth turn, seeing the seasons change and running through it all. This one life is to live to the full, not to waste by mistaking comfort for fulfilment, presuming owning things is success, or assuming allegiance to one of the 6000 gods men invented will give you a second chance. My philosophy gives me no place to hide. All well-and-good, but it was the pressure from other, less kind people, that eventually did for me.

Shorter days meant running into the sunsets

Thus, November supplied more lessons which will eventually find their way into my book. My annual mileage had reached 1254 miles, again well in excess of my target, and I naively decided that December would be my reset month to charge towards 1400 in total. What could possibly stop me? Well, in the end, everything.

Running: my only stress-relief

How did I fare in November?

My weight remains fairly steady, drifting down to up 11st 11lbs (165lbs/74.8kg). I’ve marked some key points:

  • Still the most hydrated I’ve been, so still as heavy as I will be for a weigh in.
  • % body fat up a little at 21.3
  • % visceral fat up slightly at 12.0
  • Bone mass: level.
  • Muscle mass: level.
  • BMI: Down from the initial 27.6 to 23.7, now just up to 24.5
  • Avg kcal/day balance = 1715 – a little lower than October:  but, a lot more of these were due to the reintroduction of alcohol. The quality of my fuel was going down.
  • Tummy: settled at 31”

Weight progression:

  • Dec 31st: 13st 5lbs
  • End Jan: 13st 0lbs
  • End Feb: 12st 8.2lbs
  • End Mar: 12st 4.8lbs
  • End Apr: 12st 4lbs
  • End May: 11st 12.4lbs
  • End June: 11st 11lbs
  • End July: 11st 9lbs
  • End Aug: 11st 7lbs
  • End Sept: 11st 6.8lbs
  • End Oct: 11st 12.2lbs
  • End Nov: 11st 11lbs

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