WMM diary: ‘Don’t beat yourself up — you’re going to fall off the wagon with your training but keep moving forward’

As we countdown the weeks to the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon on June 4, Louise Kearney fills us in on how she has been adapting to the curveballs along the way

Louise Kearney is looking forward to the big race day. Photo: Frank McGrath

Liadán Hynes

Louise Kearney’s training was going well, she smiles wryly, but after returning to her running club — “they do push you, and you’re part of a lovely community” — she began to experience “a niggle” when running. “I don’t know if it’s because I ran faster than I usually do.”

She is waiting for an upcoming appointment with her physio, and for dry needling, and in the meantime is getting out on her bike, making sure she is still moving — though walking, rather than running.

She has also had to contend with something of an emotional setback, experienced after returning to her running club. “When I went to the club, honestly, I got quite emotional. Because the group that I would have run with were beating the pack, and let’s say I was way down. I was last man in. The first night back I had to keep telling myself it’s progress, and set the goal as being back with the pack. Because otherwise, I would have walked away deflated.”

​Louise finds journalling very helpful, and that evening she reminded herself as she recorded her day, that her win was to get to the running club, and not to feel deflated.

“I’m going to be honest, I did go into the headspace of, ‘Oh my God, they’re so much faster than me, I can’t believe I used to run with that group’. I had to reframe it again and remind myself, ‘At least you’re moving, so keep moving.’ Any movement is better than no movement.”

She also reminded herself that the day before, she had attended the funeral of a woman who had been 50 when she died, with two children. “I’m sure she’d like to be at the park doing this. It’s pushing yourself out of the comfort zone. And realising we set goals, and sometimes you’re going to get curveballs thrown at you. And it’s how we manage the response to it.”

Her husband reminding her that she was coming back to her running practice after some time, and to manage her expectations, was also helpful. “You’re coming back to a 10K run, and you haven’t even run five. You can’t be expecting to achieve what you achieved three years ago when you haven’t practiced.”

Now she has set herself an intention to get out every day and walk. “The distance and everything else will fall into place.”

“As I say every day on a flight in work, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you assist another person. What would it look like if you just let go of something? Is the most important thing to do to wash your floors or is it more important to get out and run? The floors will be washed at some point. It’s about making the time for myself. At the weekends, I get up and get out before everyone’s awake, to make time for myself.”

Having a compassionate mindset is also crucial. Do not beat yourself up — you are going to fall off the wagon with your training. “And you can’t do anything about it. You can’t control certain things, so you have to let go of the control. In Bushy Park I thought, ‘Oh my God, I feel like a proper failure’.”

Instead, every evening Louise will focus on what that day’s win was. “So if I didn’t get out for my run, my win was something else.”

​The 2023 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon takes place in Dublin on Bank Holiday Sunday, June 4 at 12.30pm. Enter today at vhiwomensminimarathon.ie