I don’t always love to run.
My body is ridiculously fickle. It hates humidity and heat. It hates when I go out too fast or when I don’t do my pre-run routine or my post run stretch. Every body benefits from smart training, but my body seems particularly unfond(is this a word? Spell check seems to think no)of pretty much anything less than perfect running conditions. I’m just not the “go out and run and feel blissful” type. I’m not a run off the stress type. I’m picky. And inconsistent. And it drives me insane.
I have a pesky lower back, and hips that have housed 3 babies. I have tendonitis in my feet/ankles. Exercise induced asthma. Chronic sinusitis. I’ve got issues ok.
The mind is a funny thing. It does a bang up job of convincing us that we should stay put, comfortable and safe. It can also do the opposite and remind us to rest, when our bodies want to push beyond what’s really healthy.
The mind is so powerful.
When I first started running, I was told the “magic” number for any new runner is 3 miles. Because something happens at that point. The mind somehow becomes convinced that this whole running thing IS actually possible. That maybe the body CAN do this after all. Yes. And if it can go 3, it can go 4, then 5, and so on.
Anything worth having takes work. And the work isn’t just physical, it’s mental as well. A couple of weeks back, in a moment of pure confession during a physical therapy session, I told my PT that I once threw a water bottle on a run. I legit sat down on a bench in the middle of a run, and was so mad that something was hurting that shouldn’t be hurting, I chunked my water bottle across the side-walk and into the grass. Immediately following my tantrum? Remorse.
Was someone out getting their mail, watching this poor pathetic runner girl have a total mental collapse on this poor bench that did nothing to deserve it’s torture? Probably. And if they were watching, they surely had a good laugh, or at the very least, decided to never become a runner. Ha!
My point is, running, or any type of physical fitness, can bring about a lot of emotions. Physical goals push us beyond what’s comfortable. Outside of what our minds tell us we should be doing. Outside of what our bodies may WANT to do. They can make us downright crazy. But it’s worth the struggle. To be healthy is worth the struggle of both mind and body. But sometimes, the struggle is knowing which one to listen to.
Right now, I’m sitting at my table, with a hot cup of coffee, writing and cozy and comfortable. My schedule has me swimming today, and to be honest, my mind is working in overdrive to come up with a valid reason to stay at my table, cozy and comfy. My suit is on. My bag is packed. And still, I’m fighting for a reason not to go. But, I KNOW how much better I’ll feel after that swim. My mind needs to make the decision to get up, to finish this post later, and when I do, my body will follow in full submission.
The past few years, I’ve lacked the motivation to run. Or race. Or train. Or really, to try at all. My body AND my mind checked out. I’ve worked out, but only enough to get by. I’m learning thats’ ok, because we’re human. I’m human. And no one said you have to run marathons in order to be fit. In fact, I know a lot of people who run marathons who are neither truly fit or emotionally healthy. It doesn’t always equal a sky rocketing level of overall health.
With that said, for me, training for something is fun. It keeps me motivated. It forces me to not only run, but to do yoga, lift weights and cross train with days like today, in the pool. It helps keep my nutrition on point. It clears my mind. All of which contribute to my overall physical and mental health. I also know how important it is to stay home. To have the moments where I stay on the couch or at the table with that coffee, escaping into a book or spending time praying over my family, quiet and alone. Checking my world and my heart and tending to my emotional and spiritual well-being. This is so impactful to your health, as well as good sleep, proper nutrition, adequate water intake, and so on. I wasn’t running happy or content, because I simply lacked the motivation to get moving. I was burned out, and I was tired. And my mind and body both decided they needed a break.
So I learned to do something absurd to most runner’s.
I learned to rest.
Not necessarily physical rest. I didn’t decide to quit exercising simply because I wasn’t in the mood. But I allowed my mind some rest. And my body the rest where it needed it. I had been running long distances and training hard for about 4 years. So, I ran less. I lifted a little more. I biked some. But nothing was over the top or extravagant. I was living healthy and tending to other things. I let myself off the hook from racing, from being faster, from trying to prove something. I allowed myself as much time as it took to find my motivation. To find my happy running place.
And it took two whole crazy years. And those two years were packed full of life. Rob did a full Ironman, we moved, we renovated a house, I tended to my dad who is ill and took extra trips to visit he and my mom, we took trips as a family, I invested more in my kids and my home, and worked at healing some inner things that were really just for me. And I wouldn’t change a thing. It was so refreshing to not see myself as just a runner. I worked out, sometimes with motivation, other times, not so much. I didn’t race or train or follow any plan. And it was so incredibly freeing. Because I’m more than just a runner. And it’s like my mind and body needed to get on the same page in order to start accepting this.
And now, here I am, suddenly motivated and running happy. Content with where I am, and with where I have been. I know it may not always be there, that happy running feeling, so I’m taking advantage of it while I can. Breathing in the moments where my mind and heart and body all show up, on the same day, ready to work. I’m preparing for some big goals that I’ve had on the back burner for the past few years, and taking the baby steps to get there. I’m allowing my mind to chew on races and training plans, and I’m forcing myself to push a little harder, to see if I still have the will inside to do a little more. To fight another day. To push the limits and see what’s possible.
Not for Instagram or Facebook or to foster some superwoman persona. No, it’s just for me.
Because possibilities are exciting aren’t they? They’re at our fingertips every day, waiting to see what we’ll do with them. I’ll carpe diem my way through the next few months, the next few goals, the next few runs, and see what they bring. And if they bring me back to rest and less running or no running or whatever life may have to offer, that’s ok. Because being in the moment is where the good stuff really is. Being in the rest or in the work or in the ill or in the busy or in the sad or in the happy, shouting thanks for it all knowing it comes from a good God who knows exactly where I need to be, today, is where I want to live. It’s where I want to rest and find my contentment. Not as a runner or athlete or blogger or anything else that could change tomorrow, or in 5 minutes. But as a child of God, worshiping my way through the most mundane or exciting of days, thankful for the chance to run my race.
“And so taking the long way home through the market I slow my pace down. It doesn’t come naturally. My legs are programmed to trot briskly and my arms to pump up and down like pistons, but I force myself to stroll past the stalls and pavement cafes. To enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere. Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself.
For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.”
― Alexandra Potter