Many friends are aware that I am ‘up to something’ but, before I reveal all, I think it is necessary to explain some background information. This is also my first blog in a while, and will hopefully go some way to explaining my absence.

I first ran because I wanted to complete the London Marathon. I hadn’t previously been a fan of running, but was drawn by the challenge. To overcome the premise that life would be boring if it were easy, I strive on setting myself such challenges.

And 2010 was proving to be a great year for me. I finally achieved an, apparently elusive, sub 3-hour marathon and had also been promoted at work. I was on a high and everything was going well.

But the second half of the year proved to be more difficult. My Mother went into hospital for treatment to prevent cancer – she ended up being in and out of hospital for six months. The stress was clear on the family – who were involved in four car accidents within the space of one month. Fortunately there were no serious injuries, but all were probably a result of trying to do too much. And with a new job to contend with, I was struggling to train, let alone continue to chair the running club and be secretary for the County road running committee. My mileage was reduced to about 10% of where it had been previously.

I had to surrender my entry into the Jungfrau Marathon, finishing at the foot of the North face of the Eiger. And I also had to let a friend down whom I had offered to run with on the Original Mountain Marathon – an overnight affair where I would have had to carry enough kit for two days on difficult terrain over a distance of almost two marathons.

Then, just as it felt like things couldn’t get any worse, on Monday 15th November, my Grandmother died. Mum already had enough to contend with but, as an only child, she now needed our support more than ever. She pained herself to deal with the ‘necessities’ and the funeral was held two days later. While grieving, a phonecall was received on the Saturday to indicate that my Grandfather had suffered a heart attack. Then, on 22nd November, almost exactly one week to the hour after Grandma’s passing, my Grandfather died. They were both 91 years old and had lived good lives; they were married for 61 of them and apart for just one week.

It felt like the world was falling apart. I had been tremendously close to my grandparents and I was at an all-time low. I needed to do something to regain my focus.

Hospital Food

I don’t like hospitals. I don’t have much founding for that statement, but they tend to be associated with illness, bad health, funny smells and old age – none of which I want to suffer from. 

Recently, I have had to spend a large amount of time in hospital and I wondered if it would help me to build up an immunity to this hatred – in the same way that some people overcome their fears by tackling them head on, such as jumping out of a plane (with a parachute attached) to overcome vertigo. I am certainly getting more used to hospitals, but I still don’t like them. 

The time spent in hospital is often the cause of much stress – both direct, and indirect. It is clearly stressful to those in hospital – the patients undergoing surgery who may be drugged up to different levels and to the doctors and nurses who are trying to do a job. But it is equally stressful for the families and friends whose lives change as a result. Change is always stressful, but when it coincides with illness, the result is compounded. 

And the media don’t help. There are often stories of infections spreading, hospitals (and their inadequacies) being responsible, not being allowed to take flowers when visiting because they encourage infection, and having to wash hands whenever moving between rooms. I don’t disapprove of this last point, I just don’t see how it will solve all problems; I suspect it is an attempt to give an impression of taking proactive action, but I fear it only gives an impression. And in the words of Tom Smith (The Editors) “The saddest thing that I’d ever seen were smokers outside the hospital doors” – notably the staff. 

Hospitals are such large establishments that there is still so much that happens that is not known about and it is that fear of the unknown that continues to haunt me. 

So in a quest to overcome my dislike, I look for the positives. Hospitals are designed to make people better, however long the process may take, which is certainly a good premise. And the hospital I have been visiting recently is in the middle of some lovely training routes allowing me to run to and from as I choose. ‘Two birds with one stone’ is always a bonus. 

Maybe hospitals are not meant to be liked. So long as they make people better, it doesn’t matter.

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