Just running

5 mile run – have been looking forward to this for weeks. I signed up to the RunKeeper sub 60 minute 10k training plan at the beginning of January, so that I could begin to train intelligently instead of just slogging out 3 and 4 mile runs every few days. That was the habit I had developed since first beginning to run, and I’ve enjoyed it, but I know that it’s become a mentally lazy way of running for me.

I couldn’t sign up to any formal races last year because I was struggling with gall stones, which became progressively worse, landing in me in a succession of ambulances and hospital stays for the second part of the year, until I finally had my gallbladder removed at the very end of October. My recovery took a full month, and getting my running shoes on again at the beginning of December was a major milestone. It felt great to be back on the road, but now I had to face the truth – no more excuses.

I’ve never handled competition particularly well. My instinct is: if challenged, withdraw. The moment it became apparent to me (in the very first year of primary school) that I was not the best – not even close to the best – at sports, I gave up. Five years old, lying on a mat on the floor of the school gym, hamstrings and quads straining, tummy muscles failing to keep the wobble from my legs as they were supposed to glide up and down at 90 degree angle to the rest of me, I realised other people in the room were far, far fitter than I. How had that happened?? Was there some class or club that they all attended, which my parents had inexplicably failed to notice? …And the re-categorisation of myself began. I’m unfit. I’m incapable of strength. I don’t do sports. It’s not for me…

It’s been a long journey into a growth mindset which no longer responds to challenge with a success/fail criteria. I’ve become someone who looks to see what I can progressively achieve, and how much I can develop. Walking fast? Let’s try a treadmill run. Got that? Let’s work on core strength, take up Pilates. Feel stronger? How about running on the road? I’ve loved every new challenge I set myself, and there are loads more on the horizon.
But this one is really the biggie: run in front of others. Accept that there will always be people who are fitter, faster, stronger than me – but do it anyway. Run as strong, fast and far as I can, even if I’m at the back of the pack the whole way round.

No withdrawal. No excuses. Just running.
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