I have tried several times in the past 9 years to get into running. I have a friend that has been running for years. She sings it’s praises for giving her clarity and helping her cope with stress. Not to mention that she can eat whatever she wants and will always be skinny. For her, 7-9 mile runs are a weekly necessity. Marathons are a fun way to sightsee in a new city. She will actually run with a tree branch tucked into the back of her sportsbra to swat away bugs in the spring. Just a bit crazy, if you ask me.
I ran a 10K with her once. Actually, we spent the first 1/4 mile together and I didn’t really see her again until I crossed the finish line. My goal to finish and not be last was achieved…barely. I think I was 5-6th from last. At one point I was passed by a speedwalker…then an 80-year old man.
But I finished.
I really wanted to enjoy running. I wanted to look forward to it like she does. I did feel a huge sense of accomplishment for finishing. I’ve never been athletic..at all! Alas, I didn’t run much for years after that. It just didn’t stick.
Last September, another friend decided that she was going to train for a 5K on Thanksgiving…the Turkey Trot. She recently had 2 kids and was determined to get her body back. I planned to do the race with her to be supportive. I trained. I still hated it. I hated it so much that while I was running, I would chant things like, “I hate running. I haaaate running. This sucks….I hate running.” Not my usual positive self, I know. I just really, really hate it.
I ended up missing the 5K but my friend is now a bonafide runner. She loves it. Now she preaches of the clarity it gives her and how she needs it to cope with life’s craziness. Not to mention that she looks great! I’m a bit envious. I really want to be a runner. I want to have an outlet that makes the world seem better. I just haven’t been able to get past that wall. That wall that starts 30 seconds into it and lasts the entire 2-3 miles – which is as far as I’ve managed to drag myself.
I ran yesterday. 2 miles. That’s my limit most of the time. Well, my mental limit anyway. I know that it’s all mental. Anyway, I stayed after work to use the treadmill, cause let’s face it – we have 3-4 feet of snow here and it’s cold…running outside is not very appealing right now. I did my 2 miles and hated every second. Then, on my way home, I was listening to an audiobook on writing, “Writing Down the Bones” and 5 minutes into it, Natalie Goldberg said this about writing…
“Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the 3 miles but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It’ll never happen. Especially if you’re out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop and you stop hungry for the next time. That’s how writing is too. Once your deep into it, you wonder what took you so long to finally settle down at the desk. Through practice you actually do get better. You learn to trust your deep self more and not give in to your voice that wants to avoid writing.”
Interesting. Here’s what I got from this…
1. It’s normal to hate running.
2. This hatred will dissipate the more you do it.
3. Running, like most things in life, is 100% mental. It’s only by pushing yourself through the suckiness that you get to the benefits. Running, writing, anything worth doing requires mental commitment and focus. This is hard for people like me who chronically procrastinate and don’t follow through with things.
I’ve said that this year is about talking less and taking more action. This year will be the year that I become a runner. Well, this will be the year that I really try. I’m going to give it an honest, all out effort. It’s not for everybody but maybe, at the very least, I’ll gain some discipline from it.
And maybe, just maybe, this discipline will carry over into other things in life.
“I don’t hate running. I don’t hate running. Running is awesome. I LOOOOVE RUNNING!”