I've caught myself making excuses.
I pride myself on having a zero tolerance policy with myself about my running: pretty much however I'm feeling and whatever the weather is doing, come hell or high water, I will drag my sorry arse out and get the miles in.
That's still true, but I've noticed that I've started trying to explain to people why I'm not running as fast as I think I could. Here are the names of a few of my more recent runs in Strava:
"4 miles. Gentle sundowner after a long day - balance seems a bit off at the moment"
"4.3 miles. White gate with RR - legs felt absolutely rubbish but pleased with the pace overall"
"4.5 miles. Around the river with RR - watching my footing!"
"4 miles. Heavily strapped up wobble around the river"
"3.2 miles. Another tumble, I'm afraid. All okay, but I didn't even fell that one happening"
"4 miles. Gordon road with RR. Dead legs, but dare I say it...otherwise okay!"
"4.3 miles. RR with Wiggles. Absolutely gubbed today - few days off needed, I think"
...you get the general idea. Perhaps I'm simply documenting how I feel, but I reckon I can spot an excuse when I see one.
I've had a few more problems recently, but I don't like this urge to explain myself. Multiple sclerosis is a condition that is often invisible to other people (although, now I've started getting my legs out and wearing shorts in the nicer weather, more observant people can see the disparity in the musculature on my legs).... but ultimately very few people indeed care how fast I run. In fact, probably no one but me. And I'm not sure I care all that much myself, but I seem to care what other people think. People are nice and they're often very supportive, but I honestly don't think they care what my average pace is. Not really.
I suppose it's because I know that I'm getting slower and finding running more of a struggle physically at the moment; I know that I'm still faster than lots of people, but I can feel the decline and I can also see other people around me getting faster. It's not that I'm jealous - I'm genuinely happy for them because they're my friends and I know how hard they have been working to get themselves into the sort of shape where they are smashing all their PBs and running some amazing times. Good for them. It's inspiring. To be honest, I've never even really been the kind of runner who gets much of a kick out of PBs or running in competitive races, but I do like the running community I've discovered and I seem to care what they might think. I clearly feel that I need to explain to anyone who will listen why I'm not getting faster too. It's not an attractive trait.
Besides, I'm emotionally stunted and secretive and I like to keep this sort of thing to myself.
I don't like that my condition is affecting my running and that this is slowly working its way into my head too, undermining my confidence in my running. I like even less that I'm becoming the kind of person who uses that as an excuse. Maybe not to myself, but definitely to other people.
It's a slippery slope. I've run nearly 80 miles in the last four weeks... I don't think I really need to explain myself to anyone.