I love to run. I live right on the beach, and several mornings a week I will run along the beach path, up around a mountain, and back home again. One of my favourite ways to start my day.
It wasn’t always this way though.
I used to balk at the word run. Balk meanso stop short and stubbornly and refuse to go on. Yep, that was me. In my head at least anyway.
It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. It wasn’t because I was lazy. The truth was that I SO wanted to. I just felt so incapable. I felt very awkward and out of touch with my physical body, and when I tried to run, I would be puffed after 30 seconds!
I’d look at other people my age and at school and think, “How come they can? Why am I the only loser? They don’t need to train or anything, they just rock up and do it..I just want to be normal. I want to be like normal people. I don’t need to come first, I just want to come somewhere in the middle and make it to the end without dying from exhaustion.”
I decided that for me, in order to be ‘normal’, I had to train hard. Maybe if I trained really hard in secret and then just rocked up on the day, no-one would know that I was really a loser. I’d just blend in. Thus started a cycle of incredibly rigid and hard training not only with running, but EVERYTHING in my life. This was a really heavy load to carry.
So I started running. I’d run for about 30 seconds, walk for a while, run for another 30 second, walk.. gradually increasing the running to a minute or whatever.. I still felt like a fake. I would push myself harder and harder and harder.. Never really quite getting the results I desired. I wanted to run, yes. I wanted to make it to the end, yes. But now I realised I also wanted it to be easy. (As you can gather, I have always been very ambitious!) Now I wanted to transform my balking into a breeze!
What I noticed though, was that no matter how hard I pushed, I never quite got the results I wanted. I would appear to ‘make it to the end’, but it was hard, and I used to dread it. I couldn’t get to the ‘breeze’ part through force and pushing. Whether I was training alone or was running a cross country, the more I pushed, the more I hated it, and the more I just wanted it to be over. While there was momentary satisfaction of having done a task I wanted to make myself do, the feeling was short-lived, and more pushing and striving was always required. It became really challenging to sustain, as it requires a lot of energy to sustain something you dislike so much.
I decided I needed a new approach. What if I eased up a bit and made the aim enjoyment for me? The thought scared me. “I can’t do that! What if I get lazy and never run again? What if I stop doing anything!? I’ll go back to being the loser I truly am!” Although I was terrified, I started doing it this way instead -mainly as I knew the way I was doing it wasn’t sustainable. You know what that meant for me? Walking A LOT more! haha.. Anytime I felt myself starting to push too hard, I’d walk. Anytime, my body felt strained or hurt or injured, I’d walk. It also meant that if I woke up and really didn’t want to go, I didn’t. This was really hard for me to do at first! It’s funny, as sometimes it takes more to stop yourself from doing something than it does to do it.
You know what happened after I stopped freaking out? I actually found myself looking forward to it! I would wake up and WANT to go! I also found that I started wanting to run! The dread had vanished! The enjoyment was building!
For the first time in my life when it came to running, I felt like I was a success! I felt like I was being honest with myself, like I wasn’t trying to pretend anymore. I didn’t care so much about the end results and yet they seemed to come anyway. It was becoming easy!
It wasn’t an overnight transformation. This change in thinking occurred over time. I can honestly and openly say though, it has been sooooooooo worth it! I have always seen my running as a metaphor for life in general. It has taught me so much about my life and who I am. The most wonderful part about it is that it is sustainable! Enjoyment has its own momentum that just keeps on building!
Aim for enjoyment, Friend. I promise it will be worth it.