Losing The Battle….Winning The War

I am supposed to be running the Longford Marathon in two weeks time. It was the target I set myself after completing the Belfast equivalent in May and some of you may recall I blogged about my intentions at the time. I thought it was a realistic proposition and I could juggle it with all my other competing priorities. I had before, right? I’m Super Stephen and you name it I can do it.

Wrong.

I’m not super. Far from it. And as I neared Longford I realised I wasn’t quite there. I was a couple of long runs short of where I needed to be. My times weren’t quite right, my diet hadn’t been great and other matters had meant the running had slid further down the pecking order. There have been family issues, work demands and the little matter of wrestling with a 120,000 word manuscript.

This has sucked both time and energy from my sails. I have been left stranded in the running doldrums. So I’ve taken the decision to miss out on Longford and instead aim for the Causeway Coast Marathon at the end of September. It ticks a lot of boxes for me at the moment. It’s closer than Longford and offers a greater challenge as it incorporates road, trail and beach sections.

The latter mean that it is not a Personal Best course. I can take my time and enjoy the experience, take in the amazing scenery and not place myself under quite as much pressure. Because, whilst pressure can inspire and motivate, it can also deflate and crumple dreams and ambitions. At the minute I’m trying to convince the voice in my head that I’ve made the right call.

The voice that nags and niggles my every thought, telling me that I’ve bottled it and taken the easy way out. I’ve fought this voice for most of my adult life. It has been at the heart of many of my most spectacular personal car crashes. Always pressing the accelerator and taking stupid, unnecessary risks when I should be adhering to the speed limit and checking my rear view mirror at regular intervals.

Although not defined or restricted by her disability, Hannah’s spina bifida means she requires our constant care and attention. Fionnuala’s health has not been great this summer either and Rebecca starts junior high school next month. Adam is about to start a big year as well, both academically and with regards his rugby. They all require me to be around, as a husband and father.

Something has to give and, this time, it is the Longford Marathon. Who knows, Causeway Coast may have to give as well because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to squeeze it all in. And if the voice regards that as failure then so be it. I’ll take that one on the chin. I believe it requires more courage to say no and hit the brakes as opposed to careering blindly over the edge of the cliff.

This is not defeat. Defeat is letting the enemy crush you so that you can never rise against it again. Call it more a tactical retreat. The most skilful strategists play the long game, they consider the bigger picture. They soar like eagles above the battlefield, seeing everything. They are blue sky thinkers, 20/20 generals. Wisdom is a 360 degree perspective. I want to soar with them. So farewell Longford.

There’s always next year.

Are you winning your battle?

What does the voice in your head say?

46 thoughts on “Losing The Battle….Winning The War

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  1. Frankly, it just sounds as though you’re being sensible: looking at the situation that you’re in, and taking your responsibilities seriously. But then, what do I know? I’d do and say anything to get out of exercising… 🙂

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  2. I forgot to say, there’s a “fridge magnet” saying here in France that fits perfectly: Renoncer ne signifie pas toujours que tu es faible, mais ârfois tu es suffisament fort pour laisser tomber (Giving up doesn’t always mean that you are weak; sometimes it shows you are styrong enough to let go.

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  3. Good choice well made! I am guilty of setting myself up to fail due to my over excitement and (at times) complete lack of insight!! ‘I want to take on the world’, my brain shouts. ‘I want you to shut-up’ my body cries!!!
    One day I’ll learn this pacing thing.
    Cheers for another insightful and thought provoking post.

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  4. Good choice! A lot of times, the wise choice isn’t the easy one, though.
    The voice in my head tells me I need to do more. Do more, be more, help more, lead more. (Hey that kinda rhymes!) I guess that’s why I’m a self motivated overachiever. But sometimes the voice is wrong. There’s a difference between obsessing over perfection and doing my best. And I can’t be the best at everything (sadly lol).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sometimes making choices is hard. We have an amazing plethora of opportunities before us. We want it all. And sometimes we can have it all, sequentially but not simultaneously. You are making a wise choice in re-priorizing how you want to look at Longford. It could be a lovely scenic experience rather than a PB run. Or if you decide not to do it, there will be another one next year, no?

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  6. Remember only .01% of the population has ran a marathon. You’ve ran more than one so you are a winner. Better to cancel due to lack of training time than run it and risk injury!!

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  7. Tactical retreat is a great way of putting it. You’re not giving up or giving in but retreating for a higher purpose. I’ve started a new battle and am hopeful for conquering the war!

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  8. I am glad that you are not going to try and run it. Knowing when to let some things go is a measure of our learning to listen to our body and mind. It took 28 days in a mental hospital for me to learn. So glad that will not be necessary for you. What a blessing!

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  9. We can all be too tough on ourselves. I always say listen to your heart, your inner voice. Respect to you, it sounds like you have a lot going on and you’re doing your best. Sometimes we have to slow down. xo

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  10. It’s great to know when things are too much, and other priorities have go first. It is not always easy to admit defeat, but defeat is not always failure. 🙂 It just means one plan did not work out, but another one did.

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  11. I agree! Impossible to do it all, and do it all well for sure. I am finally learning how to say no to certain things and not feel guilty about it. Hope you can take time to eat well…that is key for me! Prayers for your whole family.

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  12. You’ve got a deadline for the book. To meet that deadline means something’s got to give otherwise, to use your words, it’ll be the divorce courts! In my eyes and for what it’s worth, family first, then book, normal work can potter along in the background and finally marathon. Priorities change, but always family first – without them, life is meaningless. K

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          1. I think I left Betty eating croissants back up north! I am now at La Rochelle which in fact as the crow flies is not too far from Moliets, however it’s such a wiggly route that it takes about three times as long as taking even the minor roads. Yesterday I managed to lose my glasses in a field somewhere and of course without them, I could read no maps at all or my phone, so had to follow signposts to La Rochelle to ensure being able to reach an opticians to replace them! It was in total 75 kms which was rather a lot for me and golly was I knackered by the end of it. However I now have a new pair of glasses so all is well again. 👍

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  13. Ah, I feel your struggle. You can’t get back the time with your family, but there will always be another marathon 🙂 Don’t be too hard on yourself. Let it go and be present in the moment. All my best to you and your family.

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