Tag Archives: mental health

beating anxiety

Anxiety and dealing with it has been on my mind a lot recently. A recent event really annoyed me and then I read Reg Spittle’s book “Camino Sunrise”. I reviewed it a little while back but essentially he writes about walking the Camino and dealing with significant anxiety issues before and during the walk. He describes a lifetime of anxiety and how it affected his life, his interactions with others and how it prevented him taking part in many social events and activities.

His story really made me think. I’ve had a few issues with anxiety over the last number of years but thought it was a recent thing. However, a number of his memories made me look again at events when I was younger. I was always shy and socially awkward as a teenager and a young adult. I found it difficult to make friends (still do to a certain extent) and found new and unfamiliar people and events difficult to navigate. I would worry about what could or might happen, would be concerned about being unliked or doing something embarrassing that would leave me open to ridicule.

I vividly remember one event in my first year at college when I made arrangements to go to a student night club with a group. One of the girls was on my course and the others shared a house with her. We arranged for them to pick me up on the way as we were all walking and they passed my digs. I remember hiding in the house with the lights off, pretending not to hear them at the door and claiming the next day that I wasn’t feeling well and went to bed early. All of this was caused by an intense fear that I wouldn’t fit in with them.

Other small events come to mind over the years, usually to do with social events and you can imagine how difficult it was to start dating! I cringe now when I look back at the first few times I met girls that I liked but was frozen by a fear of rejection and humiliation.

In the last few years I’ve had episodes of anxiety linked to big events but also for surprisingly minor undertakings. I remember binning at least one Audax cycle due to a fear of not being able to complete the route and worry about getting stranded with no way home. In the last couple of weeks I had a similar experience that really annoyed me.

I’ve done a few short and reasonably easy hikes in the last year or so and I have been developing a hunger for more challenging mountain hikes again. I’ve rooted out all my old books and rediscovered a circuit of the Sruell Valley that goes into the heart of the Bluestack Mountains and includes the highest point along the way. I made plans and pencilled it in for one of my days off. I was really looking forward to this hike for the best part of a week and had everything lined up days in advance and even the weather looked good.

The day before this all changed. I started worrying about all the things that could go wrong. My fitness is shot to hell, I’m carrying 10kg more than I should and it’s been 10-15 years since I attempted a hike with this kind of challenge. I was worried about the remoteness of the walk and my total inexperience of an area I hadn’t walked in before.

The morning of the hike I had an early appointment and I also had to be finished and back home by a certain time. My early morning anxiety manifested itself in an upset stomach and when the morning appointment went on longer than expected I was in a high state of anxiety. I somehow managed to convince myself to go anyway but the whole way to the starting point I was running through reasons to call it off. One of my ingenious excuses was to lie and say it was too cloudy as I could see a lowish cloud base on the drive over. By the time I arrived at the start this actually was the case. A weather system had creeped in that consisted of steady, heavy drizzle and a very thick, dark and low bank of cloud over the whole range. I couldn’t see anything above 200m and it was foolish to contemplate the hike in those conditions.

Within 10min of making the decision to abandon the hike and on my way home I could physically feel the anxiety lifting. It was like someone opened a valve and let it all drain out. The knots in my stomach that had been there all morning unravelled and I felt like I was floating with the decision made for me. It brought a sense of relief but also huge anger. I was furious and felt that I’d let the anxiety beat me and simply used the weather as an easy escape. I’m still not sure if I did or not but it certainly opened my eyes to how anxiety could and had prevented me from doing something I should have enjoyed. Reading Reg’s book a few days later really brought it all home to me but also gave me an urge to beat it.

Within a day or so I’d come up with an alternative plan, to complete a different challenging hike of a similar level but one I had done before. In fact on the way home that first day I actually scouted out the start point for parking as I hadn’t been there for almost 15 years. On Sunday I did that hike.

barnesmore hike

It’s a hike up Barnesmore Gap climbing Croaghonagh from the steep side and descending by a very steep gully. The first few kilometres follow the track of the decommissioned Donegal Railways line that ran from Stranorlar through the Gap to Donegal Town from 1889 to 1959. Walking this track there is ample evidence of the old railway. There are many of the original telegraph poles still standing, there are stone retaining walls on the hill to protect from landslides as well as stone culverts to divert streams under the tracks. The ground is clearly modified to provide a flat surface for the railway and the gravel used to grade the line is still visible on many sections. There is a subtle feel underfoot of the regular humps where the sleepers would have sat to support the rails.

barnes gap c.1890 © wikipedia

1959 photo shoot © flickr

After approximately 3.5km a convenient sheep trail provides a reasonably easy location to cross the old stone wall and get access to the hill. This is where the hard work begins. The next 45min was a slog through deep grass and heather, dry and brittle from the winter winds and the last week of dry weather. This is trackless terrain that is best traversed using vague sheep trails to avoid the worst of the boggy ground and hidden holes that could easily result in a broken leg or twisted ankle. Around and between craggy outcrops, crossing a couple of small streams and climbing a steep, grassy ramp eventually gives you your first clear view of the summit having climbed approximately 280m in 2km. The final push to the summit dips and climbs across a mixture of peat hags, boggy grassland and eventually a short steep climb up an enjoyable rocky outcrop.

The rocky summit is spoiled by 3 masts surrounded by fences and support cables but the views are amazing. Despite the haze there were great views out over Lough Eske and Donegal Bay to St John’s Point and Slieve League just about visible in the far distance with the Dartry Mountains to the Southwest and Benwiskin and Benbulben clearly visible. Eastwards you are looking out over Lough Mourne and the bleak expanse of bogland stretching into Co. Tyrone as well as down the Finn Valley with the Sperrins clearly visible and the mountains of Inishowen in the far distance. Close by the craggy hulk of Croaghconnellagh looms just across Barnesmore Gap.

looking west

looking east

Lunch was had in the shelter of a large boulder with the wind thrumming through the mast cables sounding like a jet engine readying for take off. Out of the wind it was warm in the strong sunshine and I sat for almost 45min enjoying the view.

It’s possible to descend from the summit using the access track for the masts and forest tracks for approximately 5km. However, I opted for the much more direct option that follows a gully just below the summit that drops over the edge and the very steep drop back to the earlier approach trail. This is an incredibly steep and demanding descent that requires great care to choose the best line. Rushing here and a resulting trip or fall could have disastrous consequences. After the dry spell I probably had the best possible conditions for attempting it. Reaching the bottom my thighs and calves were throbbing with the effort and my knees were aching but looking back up I had an intense feeling of satisfaction for having done it.

The last 1.5km trace the original path in through the forest and back to the parking spot. A difficult, challenging but very rewarding hike.

interesting elevation profile

click here to view on strava

Update: 28th April

Video of my walk can be found here:

camino sunrise – walking with my shadows

Camino Sunrise – Walking With My Shadows by Reginald Spittle

From Goodreads:

Walk? 500 miles? Across Spain? We can’t do that!
And so began the journey of a lifetime for Reg Spittle.

An outwardly well-adjusted professional and family man, Reg was a master of disguising a lifetime of debilitating anxiety that undermined his self-confidence.

Recently retired, he never dreamed he’d soon find himself chasing distant boundaries across a foreign land, sleeping in dorm bunks and sharing bathrooms as if he were a teenager experiencing his gap year.

When tragedy strikes, Reg reluctantly accepts his wife’s challenge to carry his red backpack on the historic Camino de Santiago, confronting past fears and humiliations, while packing weighty new worries.

Self-reflection, humor, and a recurring cast of characters create the backdrop for a story of hope in Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the first book written by the author but I have already read his second book that details his later treks. This is the story of how it all began.

The book is an enjoyable account of the Camino experience. It’s very different from the PCT and AT endurance treks I’ve enjoyed in lots of other books but it’s most certainly a challenge in its own right. I found that the book captured a sense of sharing and camaraderie that seems more personal on the Camino compared to the other treks. The author describes his Camino “Family” and the spirit of this definitely comes across. This subtle difference may be due to the kind of trekker that is attracted to the different trails. The people Reg and Sue met were older in general while the PCT and AT seemed to be predominantly younger trekkers.

The book is also a very personal and private struggle for the author as the Camino experience brings his life-long struggles with anxiety to the fore. Even contemplating and agreeing to attempt the trek is a massive challenge for him. Throughout the book he describes events through his childhood that led to anxiety in his adult life and how he hopes that post-Camino Reg will be a different person to pre-Camino Reg.

At times I felt the personal stories uncomfortable. I was lucky to have a much happier childhood but many of the struggles he describes were very familiar. At the time I simply put it down to shyness and social awkwardness but it made me realise that anxiety that I sometimes struggle with in adulthood was there during my childhood too. Recognising this shook me a bit. Maybe this was my own Camino journey in a very small way.

Header image by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

what a difference a day makes…

Just in case that’s not enough to implant an earworm have a listen to this….

The lyrics are also very appropriate for what I want to write about:

What a difference a day makes
24 little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain


My yesterday was blue, dear
Today I’m a part of you, dear
My lonely nights are through, dear
Since you said you were mine


What a difference a day makes
There’s a rainbow before me
Skies above can’t be stormy
Since that moment of bliss, that thrilling kiss
It’s heaven when you find romance on your menu
What a difference a day made
And the difference is you

Out for a walk in one of the local forests this evening I was ruminating on how fickle mental health really is and how little it takes to swing it up or down.

I had a busy schedule yesterday that started at 9:30am with a trip to the nurse to have bloods taken followed by the dentist at 10:30am. I was in reasonably good form getting up and heading out, the weather was sunny, dry and verging on warm. However, I descended into a pretty crappy funk. I could almost physically feel a gloom settling over me. I was sitting in the dentist’s waiting room and it was as if the nurse had punctured my well of good humour and it started draining out just under an hour later. For many simply being in the vicinity of a dentist would be enough to kill any good mood but this was a very short, routine appointment to have a mouthguard fitted and wasn’t to blame. In fact there really was nothing to blame, it just happened like someone throwing a dust sheet over my mind and saying that’s it for feeling happy for a while….

I got through the dental appointment and the rest of the day’s schedule but everything was that extra bit more difficult. I’m sure anyone that dealt with me yesterday probably thought I was a real miserable arse but I was working hard to be my best. Despite the perfect weather though I couldn’t summon enough motivation to go for a walk or a cycle. This is a real shame as there will be plenty of times when the motivation is there and the opportunity isn’t or the weather isn’t as perfect.

I went to bed feeling slightly better and was back in work today. I had a busy and productive day and didn’t really have time to dwell on much but I was making sure I was distracted enough too. Getting home this evening I delighted the dog by heading straight out to the forest for a 5K walk finishing just as darkness fell. Just like yesterday descending gloom I could feel it lifting through the day to finish feeling much better and much clearer in my head.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt “The Black Dog” sniffing around like this but it’s definitely the first time I’ve felt it come on like that. I’m thankful it was short-lived and I’m grateful I don’t have to fight through very many days like that. Many, many people have to face that fight day after endless day…

time to take back control

Warning: this turned into quite a long post!

Over the last couple of years most of society has given up a lot of control to others. Many of the decisions we had been used to making ourselves were restricted by the decisions of those in government over us. These restrictions have resulted in many positive impacts with health services not becoming over run and the lives of many being saved. There have been negative impacts also with the mental health of many being badly affected, health appointments, checkups and surgeries delayed and many people becoming frightened and isolated from the rest of society. Finally though, with the end of the latest Omicron wave, it appears that life will now begin to return to normal as restrictions are being completely removed in many countries around the world.

From a personal point of view I feel that I have lost control of certain aspects of my own life and especially so over the last 6 to 12 months. I’ve written a number of times here about my inate lack of motivation and tendency towards laziness and putting things on the long finger. I know Covid has made that more difficult but in some ways it’s also an excuse that I’ve been using to justify my actions or rather inactions. That needs to change.

Most years at either the end of December or the beginning of January I make a list of targets and plans for the year ahead. I intentionally didn’t do that this year. As 2021 drew to a close I’d been thinking about this lack of control and what I was going to do about it. I decided that this year was to be about taking back control of my health, fitness and weight. I’ve been very inactive especially since about August and my diet has deteriorated quite badly. Consequently I’m now less fit and heavier than I have been for a good few years. I’m 49 this year and that’s not a good place to be at this age. I decided that getting back to regular activity, cutting most of the crap from my diet and getting my weight back to a healthier level was more important than arbitrary distance targets or streak challenges this year.

Changing jobs has given me a new impetus and also new opportunities with a shorter commute and slightly shorter working day but the change has also brought new challenges with new systems, people and routines to learn and establish. I did get a little more active in January but not to the level that I need.

Last week saw the turn of the month from January into February. The 1st of February is celebrated in Ireland as St. Brigid’s Day but in ancient Ireland it was known as Imbolc. Halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox it traditionally marked the beginning of Spring and generally associated with new beginnings. What better week to start afresh?

On Monday I finally made it to a physio to get some work done on my back. It’s been an issue for me for quite a few years but has been a consistent annoyance now for the last 4-5. I’ve had a few episodes of very bad pain this last year and twice over Xmas and New Year. I’ve been to physios before but it’s always been a temporary fix and I haven’t maintained the stretching or exercises to get into shape and keep the pain away. This is now the time to reverse that. The physio gave me a good examination, some massage and stretching followed by some dry needles and electro therapy. I was tender for a day or two but the next couple of days were the best I’ve felt for a long time. I have a follow up appointment this week and then a series of strengthening and stretching exercises to do daily to keep it good. Despite my lack of effort this seems to be an issue that should be reasonably easy to treat if I apply myself.

On Tuesday I then read a blog post written by Jim at Fit Recovery. Jim writes a lot about cycling, more recently about bowling but also a lot about recovery from alcohol addiction. This particular post was about recovery but it definitely struck a chord with me, especially the bit about not letting the argument in your head start at all. Just shut it down before it starts. Too many times I let the argument run and it wins and I do nothing or put something off. My big challenge now for this year is to make that my new habit.

With that new momentum I decided to cycle with the Club on Wednesday morning. I got the bike prepped and my kit ready for the morning and for the first time in well over 6 months I went for a group spin. It was a damp Wednesday morning so it was only the 3 of us and the other guys were stronger than me. However, we went out with a headwind and with them taking turns on the front and me on the 3rd wheel we all had a good workout and at much the same level. At Ballinamore School (21km) I turned back for home while they went on to Fintown for an extra 10-15km. I knew I didn’t have the legs for that and was able to enjoy the tailwind home solo. I had a surprising amount of anxiety about going out for this spin that took significant effort to suppress. However, I went out, performed way better than I expected and had a good time despite the tender ass and tired legs!

With no plans for the afternoon, buoyed by my successful morning and the encouragement from the two guys I spent some time that afternoon getting my MTB sorted in order to join the Club run on Thursday evening. I used to do this 2-3 nights a week a few years ago but the small group we had broke up when the other guys switched over to Zwift the following winter and I couldn’t get a new group together. In the meantime a new group formed but I’d never joined them. Thursday was to be the night.

Again I was a bit concerned about my fitness but this is a very mixed ability group and the ethos is to stick together so I was feeling better about joining them. Altogether we were out for over 2 hours but lost 20-30mins with an awkward puncture. It was a whole load of fun, I’d forgotten how great it was to get cold and wet in the dark on a MTB!

The next stage of my comeback was to join the Sunday morning road bike group but a storm blew in over the weekend making it dangerous to ride and definitely not fun. Despite this early setback I’m ready to roll tomorrow evening again with the MTB group and looking forward to it.

I still have a bit of a way to go to take back control of other things I’ve been letting slide but the journey has started and so far I’m feeling good.

On a complete tangent this post has been rattling around my brain since yesterday and every time I think of it I end up singing this song…..

it’s time to look forward…

I’m no fan of An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and I did think that the start of his speech was a bit corny. However, by the end I felt it was the best government speech I’ve heard for a long time. Maybe it was the message, maybe it was the nationalistic theme and maybe it was even the man himself but I have to admit I was a bit emotional by the end…

Spring is coming and I don’t know if I’ve ever looked forward to one as much as I’m looking forward to this one.

Humans are social beings and we Irish are more social than most.

As we look forward to this Spring

we need to see each other again,

we need to see each other smile,

we need to sing again.

Header image by Jonathan Petersson from Pexels

living with covid

I finally got around to getting my vaccine booster this morning. I was going to book an appointment at the vaccine centre for a day last week but then our health centre announced a vaccine day. I decided to delay for a week for the convenience factor.

My first two shots were in the official vaccine centre in Letterkenny with a full-on Health Service setup manned by nurses and supported by Irish Army personnel. Checking in, proof of ID, short medical questionnaire, queues and 15min recovery afterwards – easily 30-45min. Today couldn’t have been much more different. Owen and myself arrived a few minutes early for our 11am appointment and were back in the van within 5 minutes! It wasn’t exactly hello, sign that, here’s your card, sit down, jab and piss off but it was close. That’s the way it should be 👌

From the experience of others and from my own experience of the first two vaccines I’d decided in advance that today would be an easy day. However, with the weather being settled and dry I was itching to get outside by the afternoon so decided to go for an easy walk in one of the local forests.

I packed a bag and half way round I went into the trees to make and drink a hot chocolate. I found a great stand of larch trees and a perfect spot to set up my stove and sit for a half hour. The larches have all dropped their needles at this time of year which meant it was bright under the trees and felt much more open than usual in a conifer forest.

Just before Xmas I’d ordered an ultralight stove and stand from Speedster Stoves. It’s a little alcohol/spirit burner but I hadn’t tried it out yet so brought that with me today to heat water.

The great thing about making hot chocolate like this is that it is scalding hot at first and needs patience and time to cool down. This forces me to slow down, relax and enjoy the moment. In the woods this is amplified further by the peace and quiet. I’ve used gas stoves before but the alcohol stoves seem much more appropriate. They’re virtually silent and being that bit slower also add to the need to slow down.

Unfortunately not everyone understands the value of sitting still and enjoying the silence…

As I said over on Instagram: Time well spent…

Header image by cottonbro from Pexels

renewing old friendships

Last weekend I made the long drive to Portlaoise (3.5hrs each way) to take part in the annual Geocaching Ireland New Year Resolution Event. This takes place each year on the first/second Saturday in January. There’s a meetup in a scenic location followed by a walk, usually around 10km. As January is usually a busy month for retail and Saturday a key day I haven’t been able to make this event since 2013! However, changing jobs meant that I was able to book it off this year.

The walk mostly followed the waymarked Glenbarrow Mill Loop and for the first half it was along the River Barrow. After a few weeks of rain the river and waterfalls were in full spate with the waterfalls being especially impressive. The second half was along forest trails and a boardwalk across the more open hillside.

The walk was really enjoyable, a gentle rambling pace and beautiful scenery. However, the main aim and most enjoyable thing about the day was meeting old friends that I haven’t seen for a good few years. That was by far the best part of the day and more than worth the long drive each way 😊

with my old bud – mammy eileen

On Wednesday I then reacquainted myself with another old friend that I haven’t seen much of since August. We’ve seen each other in passing but I’ve always felt awkward about not spending time together like we used to and I’ve usually rushed on past with my eyes averted pretending not to notice him….

Since I screwed up my digestive system back in August I haven’t been cycling at all hardly and anything I did do was on the MTB. On Wednesday, after a 5 month gap, I finally went out for a road spin. I was way more nervous and anxious than I expected but despite my fitness being shot to shit I managed a pretty hilly route and even managed to enjoy myself. It felt good to be back out and good to finally break my duck 💪🚴

click here to view on strava

Header image by Chanikarn Thongsupa from rawpixel.com

hegartys half marathon for pieta

On Sunday the full team from work (Hegartys Home Interiors) will be completing a sponsored run to raise funds for Pieta.ie

Pieta provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service to people who are in suicidal distress, those who engage in self-harm, and those bereaved by suicide. All of their services are provided free of charge and no referral is needed.

3 of the team will be running a half marathon starting at the Peace Bridge in Derry and finishing outside Hegartys in Buncrana. The rest of us will be running 5 and 10K stages to support the half marathon runners. I will be running a 5K stage.

If you would like to support us in our fundraiser you can donate at the following link.

https://www.feelgoodwithpieta.ie/fundraisers/HEGARTYSHOMEINTERIORSHALFMARATHON

There is no minimum or maximum donations so even €/£/$1 will help and 100% of funds go direct to Pieta

just not feeling it…

I’ve been finding it difficult to get into a good headspace for a good few weeks now. I wrote back in the middle of July that I was finding it difficult to get motivated to walk and cycle and basically get past the planning stage of anything really. Despite pushing myself to do some things I still feel that I’m only operating at something like 75% of normal. It’s like a series of those days when the weather is full of low hanging clouds and misty drizzle, grey and dispiriting.

With those kind of feelings along comes that good friend comfort eating. I’ve definitely been guilty of resorting to a much increased consumption of chocolate, crisps and biscuits over the last 6/8 weeks. That combined with a considerable drop in activity has resulted in weight gain and I’m now at the top end of my scale. I’m really not comfortable in this zone as it’s getting easier to just let it go.

Energy levels are poor. I’m sleepy and lethargic at strange parts of the day. I almost nodded off at lunchtime today and I’ve found the evening commute difficult on a number of occasions with a sleepy head and droopy eyelids. I’m going to bed at decent times but don’t think my sleep quality is where it should be.

I’ve also been having some “digestive” issues in the last month. I’m not sure if that is a symptom or a contributing cause. I’m concerned that it is the beginning of an intolerance or maybe a form of IBS but have a feeling that it’s mostly dietary and stress related. I’m hoping that a few weeks of cleaner eating will help settle me down again. It can only help with the weight gain also!

I had very little interest in riding my bike today and with a mid morning vaccine appointment for the two boys and an afternoon forecast for persistent rain I knew it was unlikely to happen anyway. Shortly after lunch and almost nodding off I decided to try and lift some of this hateful lethargy and went for a walk in the rain. It was quite warm with no wind and mostly just drizzle when I set off. The heavier rain came along the road but I don’t really mind walking in these kind of conditions. Along the way I met some new neighbours 🐮

The route was mostly local minor roads and lanes but also skirts through one of the local forestry plantations. I took a small bag with me containing my gas cannister, stove, cook pot and water. The plan was to go into the trees and make a hot chocolate.

I didn’t really want a hot chocolate but it’s difficult to rush one without scalding your mouth so it forces you to slow down and take your time. I had Rosie with me too which wasn’t a great idea as she can’t settle when out like this, wants to keep moving and whines a lot.

zero patience!

I ended up sitting for at least half an hour while I prepared my drink and allowed it to cool. It was nice to sit and enjoy the forest and try to settle my mind. I found it surprisingly difficult to switch off my brain, random nonsense and ideas flitting around but I guess I just need more practice to get better at it.

Header image from NAMI.org

running out of excuses

I’ve been off the bike for a week and a half, in fact I haven’t recorded a single activity since my 200km spin on the last day of June. I’ve been in a real slump over the last week but I’ve felt it coming for the last few weeks. The real indicator was missing a couple of days in the middle of June, recording no activities and breaking the streak I had kept going since the middle of January. Until today I hadn’t even done one of my previous self imposed minimum distance 2km walks.

Everyone is very aware of how tough 2020 was but to be honest I’ve found this year much harder in many ways. Since the start of this year it has felt like a constant barrage of negativity that is very wearing. However, it’s not all Covid. It’s in me as well. I’m very easily distracted and find it difficult to stay focused on long term targets. I’m an expert prevaricator and as well as finding excuses to stop doing something, I’m also great at putting off starting things.

I don’t know if it’s a fear of failure or simply a lack of drive and self belief. Since early this year I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on wild camping, backpacking and bushcraft. I’ve lots of ideas where I’d like to go and I’ve endless lists of gear I’d like to buy. Realistically I don’t have the perfect gear setup but I have enough to get started but it’s pushing myself over the starting line that is the hardest thing to do. I’ve been like this for many years but it seems to have worsened recently. Easy to blame Covid again but it’s not just that.

This last 10 days I’ve surpassed myself with excuses though. I had planned to take Thursday off to rest weary legs and recover. Friday night I didn’t sleep as I was driving support crew for one of my friends competing in the Donegal 555K Ultra race. Saturday I was exhausted from the night before and an inability to sleep that morning. I also had my second vaccine so on Sunday I was wiped out with the side effects (shivers, sweats, slept most of the day and generally very, very tired). Monday I was back at work but still tired, Tuesday I snoozed the alarm instead of getting up early and the evening was spent taxiing the boys to and from football training. Wednesday was my day off but as Catriona was also off I opted to spend the day with her instead and we went to Derry for a wander around the shops and for lunch. This is the one day I’m glad I skipped! Thursday I was also off but I had the dentist first thing and really didn’t feel like riding that afternoon with a swollen mouth and tender jaw. Friday it was raining after work (easiest excuse of the week) and Saturday morning I snoozed the alarm once again.

Today I really was all out of excuses. It was warm and dry and not very windy. The boys didn’t have any training, Catriona was at work and I was off. Still, it took me until 3pm to get myself off the couch, away from my Kindle and YouTube and out on the bike. During the early afternoon I’d planned and discarded a number of route options before finally settling on a reasonably simple and easy 32km ride.

I have a big cycling plan for 2022 and I have my RRTY challenge just started. If I’m going to achieve either of these I need to break myself out of this current slump and get back in a positive frame of mind. I still have almost 3 weeks to spin my legs back up and get ready for the second 200km. Retraining my legs will be easy, the real challenge will be retraining my brain.