I went out for a three-mile run this evening. It was beautiful and I feel great about it. Running has always been a part of my life but over the past few years, I have been struggling with health problems that have kept me from running the way I used to run.
Now that my health issues appear to be under control, I am aching to get back to it. I didn't think it would be this difficult to find the motivation to get back to running though. I realize that a lot of what used to drive me to run long distances has been healed. I'm emotionally a much healthier person than I have ever been in my life which has sort of taken the edge off my needing to run like a crazy woman all the time.
Now I'm trying to strike a balance that I enjoy. I'm happier, more whole, and more at peace with myself than I have ever been in my life. In some ways, this life feels foreign - trusting nothing horrible will happen the moment I open the door. I'm not saying it's perfect. I am only saying I feel emotionally better than I ever have in my entire life. Now I just want my physical fitness to match up again.
Part of the problem is that I've always been a pretty good runner and now I'm not. There's this expectation that I am still going to run 8-minute miles for 13 miles straight or six to eight miles per day. If I decide to run a measly three miles, the voice in my head starts screaming at me, "What a wimp!" or "How pathetic!" So, I push past what I feel like doing and run another two or three extra on top of it.
I realize that the voice in my head is the old me, the one well versed in negative feedback. Perhaps this is the reason I don't have the motivation to run anymore. The new me hasn't set the ground rules about what voices are allowed to speak during a run. The new me knows that if it's not something I would EVER say to someone else, then it's probably not something I should EVER say to myself.
Today I decided I was going to override the negative talk with positive feedback. Whenever a negative thought popped up about my performance, I pushed it out and replaced it with good thoughts. For example:
Old voice: "People driving by are laughing at me for running so slowly and being pathetically out of shape."
New voice: "I've never driven by anyone who was running, no matter how slowly, and thought they were pathetically out of shape. I usually think, 'Good for them! I should get out there today as well!'. The people in their cars probably don't notice me at all and, if they do, they're probably thinking something more like, 'It's great to see people out being active now that it is summer. Maybe I'll go for a walk/run when I get home.' Perhaps I am inspiring them to go for a run."
The result is that I finished my run happier than I would have in the past. It felt good and I felt good. The voices inside my head were encouraging and complimentary afterward rather than judgmental and discouraging.
The lesson is, being fit isn't about how fast or long I run. It's about the balance it brings to my mind and body. If I silently berate myself the entire length of my workout, I'm really not doing myself any favors. Getting back to fit isn't only about my physical well-being but my emotional health as well. The old me was running hard against the pain of the past. The new me is enjoying the journey.
For me, the road back to fit isn't about how fast, far or frequently I run/exercise these days. It's about the measure of joy and satisfaction it brings into my life. If you run, make sure you #RunForFun.