My default reaction to anything difficult in life was to run and I’m not meaning in the physical sense. This had to change. I knew that. But how? After an immense amount of soul searching I started physically running as a counteraction.
It may surprise you that I have never thought running was fun, nor do I think it makes me better than anyone else because I do. It was time I did something for myself, on my own, and I did. Here’s why.
Run away or just run
This time, when I was faced with an enormous amount of life’s struggles, it was vital that I responded differently to break the repetition of the past. I confidently chose “just run” to:
Prove to myself that I could
I had always told myself that I was a sprinter not a long distance runner. It seemed fitting to change a belief that had held strong for so many years.
I was overthinking everything – my job, my friends, my living arrangements, my financial position and my mum. I had to learn to let go and let be. Strangely enough, it’s really hard to think while running.
Remove a mental barrier
My long standing mindset that I wasn’t able to run long distances was only ever a thought. Surely I’m more than than just a formation of mental objects? Am I really more than and more powerful than a single thought? I had to find out.
Change never comes by doing what you’ve always done
Positively fill in time
I often found myself scrolling through Facebook and Instagram looking for motivation. There’s only so many memes you can read in one day. The harsh reality is that the memes have to be put into practice and not just read.
Built up emotions including anger, hurt, shame and guilt was overpowering my life. I needed an outlet. It was either going to be running or boxing and at this point I couldn’t handle dealing with people, so I ran.
Everybody wants to feel free. I found my freedom by doing exactly what I wanted, when I wanted. Nobody else was there. It was entirely up to me and oddly that made me feel free. Free to choose. Free to walk. Free to stop. Free to run a different path. Just free.
Everything begins with the first step
Be stronger mentally
It was a slow slog to learn to trust myself and listen to my body. It was truly interesting to notice that it was my mind that gave up long before my legs, my lungs, my heart or my muscles. The body is so much stronger than I ever gave credit. I wanted to transform my mind to catch up with my body. It’s a fascinating process.
My affinity with nature including the sunshine, the water, the trees, birds and lizards always had a way of making me feel more connected to the earth. I felt calmer, happier and lighter from being outside for extended periods of time.
Learn not to give up
I’d completely forgotten what it’s like not to give up. As a child I was so determined. I’m not sure when I lost that part of me, but I desperately wanted it back. Once I started running I began to create some unspoken targets and goals for myself. It was as simple as “I’m not walking until I reach that tree” or “today, I’m going run 3 kms without stopping”. From memory, my last goal was to run 6 kms in under 40 minutes. I nailed it – once. I didn’t have to do it again after that.
I cried lots. There are some small mercies for wearing sunglasses. Thinking back to whenever I cried I was only ever feeling sorry for myself. Emotionally I was drained. Physically and mentally I was weak. So I cried. Lots. Now, after months of running I can’t tell you the last time I cried. I’ve definitely grown and am certainly feeling much stronger and happier.
Some sound advice
For those of you who may choose to walk or run for their own reasons, do yourself a massive favour early. Treat yourself to some really good shoes and comfortable fitting clothes before you start. These are the pivotal factors that will deter and distract you on your first attempt if you don’t.
I’m hoping to see you on the city loop someday soon and you can tell me about your journey and how you got there. I’m really looking forward to hearing your story.