‘Insomnia, not eating right and missing races and club-mates’ – Mark Gallacher

Friday 22nd May 2020

Mark Gallacher (61) competing at the Monument Mile event in Stirling last year (photo by Bobby Gavin)


Mark Gallacher of Motherwell AC is a well-known Masters athlete around the Scottish endurance scene who writes a blog where he describes himself as ‘The Most Irritating Runner in Scotland?

Mark was in great from when lockdown struck and, like many others, his marathon training has been disrupted by changing scenarios with spring cancellations and autumn uncertainty.

In his latest piece, he also writes very candidly about trying to juggle employment worries with working from home, running from home and a lack of access to facilities or gathering with friends and club-mates . . .

‘Disclaimers – This is my blog about me and how I am feeling. It’s representative only of me.

‘I haven’t blogged for nearly two months, I’m sure no-one has noticed, but sometimes you have to go back to your own form of therapy to help you through strange times. And these are strange times, and this is my form of therapy.

‘I know there are a lot of people out there with a lot of time on their hands, and I see PBs galore on Strava, on Facebook and well done to you all, but this blog isn’t for those people today, this is for those of us who are struggling.

‘Now define struggling, Mr Irritating:

‘Are you sick? Is your family? Are you a frontline key worker?

‘No, I am none of these things.

‘I am just a person, a Dad, a husband, an employee who is finding his mood and anxiety having shot after shot on a particularly fast rollercoaster. I am also allowed my wobbles.

‘I am fortunate/unfortunate to not be a furloughed member of staff. 80% of my workplace is, just so we can keep the business open. You do what you can to keep your and others livelihoods, you wear 4 or 5 different hats in the one day, spending hour after hour in a place not designed for work.

‘I am not one of these people you see on the telly, or in my own Teams meetings with others. I have no home study, home office, impressive libraries of obscure books in the background, I am stuck up a loft working on a table maybe 1 metre by half a metre, paperwork all over the floor.

‘Already you feel inferior seeing others and their swanky workstations. Aye you feel a failure for that, blurring out the background on Teams so no one can see where you are working.’

Enter now for 4J Studios Virtual Club Distance Challenge 2

And Mark in action at Silverknowes in the 2019 5k Champs (photo by Bobby Gavin)

‘You don’t have all the stuff you need but you try. You make mistakes doing other peoples tasks but sort them, but these things take time. So much work to do I can’t get involved in home schooling, I am Facebook’s worst Dad it seems.

‘It’s easy to fall way behind and difficult to catch back up. You see Social media full of people achieving. Not just PBs but new hobbies, quizzes, house improvements, etc etc and it’s tough.

‘Running groups spend all their time arguing about how many runs you can do a day and how far and you have people complaining about posts, reporting them over and over and getting stroppy when it isn’t moderated straight away.

‘Sorry I’m busy, I don’t read through all the posts. Least of my worries peeps but carry on. Yes, none of these are front-line struggles. But they are head struggles, they affect. Helpless, hopeless, stressed, feeling inferior to everyone. Most of it irrational but your head doesn’t always listen to that. This ain’t going to be PB city.

‘Two months ago I was in the shape and form of my life.

‘Here I am now , I’m a fair bit heavier as eating rubbish to get me through the day. Eating more than I was when I was marathon training. Insomnia my new enemy and the more you try to sleep the less chance you have of doing it. I can’t follow any training plan.

‘I have tried the virtual races just to try an give myself a bit of focus and well done to Motherwell AC, scottishathletics and the BMC for arranging.

‘Did two one milers in a week and went from 5.16 to 5.07 which was good but still way off last year’s pace and even where I was in March. You see the memories of last year’s races coming up, a 17.00 5k, 36.11 for 10k, you think where you are now, it adds to the fog in your head. It’s like a different life.

‘The long runs are a struggle. I have niggles – achilles on left, ball of foot on right. I should take time out but I need to run for clarity in the head. I miss running on the track. I miss my Tuesday sessions at MAC.

‘I am bored with running from my house and have had to axe a couple of routes as some of Lanarkshire’s finest are congregating on the trails to get round the social distancing and getting lunged at and chased by a junkie not my idea of relieving the stress.

‘So here I am.

‘Not wanting sympathy as people are worse off, a LOT worse off. Not wanting to take the shine off those that are achieving in everything they are doing. You deserve it.

‘But I just know there are other people out there like me. I want you to know you are not alone, there are many of us struggling at times, and many of us whose running and fitness has got worse.

‘Get it out and try and lift that fog. Do what you can and try not to compare yourselves with others. Us ordinary punters are struggling too. We are all dealt different cards, some cards you picked a while ago make it difficult for you too but just do what you can. If you have to switch off Strava, Facebook, whatever for a while then do it, do what is right for you. We will get through this, though these are tough times.

‘If you can get out there and get one foot in front of another then we are winning, we need to remind ourselves of that.

‘I will not PB for a long time, maybe never again but I am not failing, I just doing the best I can just now, in everything and I just need to remind myself of that more often.’


Tags: Mark Gallacher

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