I go through phases when it comes to fitness and, in particular, running. Sometimes I’m super-motivated and training towards a particular race or event, other times it’s been so long since I’ve run that I’ve forgotten where I’ve left my trainers.
At one point I used to drag myself to the gym 4 times a week, hop on a treadmill and not allow myself to stop until I had run the 5,6,8 or 10kms I needed to do to keep up with my training plan. With the rigmarole of having to mentally prepare myself for the slog of each gym session, I felt like I was getting nowhere fast. I would break up my running time into 10-minute slots, hating each and every moment. The first 10 minutes were all about trying to get a steady breathing pattern going, the second 10 minutes would just be about making it through to the final 10-minute slot, where the mantra there was “nearly done, don’t stop now!”. I did improve my fitness levels, lost a bit of weight and even managed to speed up a little. But the daily dread of having to re-start my 30-minute torment was something that not even a motivational playlist could fix! Therefore, after completing a half marathon, I hung up my running shoes.
Fast forward a couple of years, after taking some time out with an injury, I have been slowly trying to get back into running. I’ve taken to the roads this time though – no more treadmills for me! I want to enjoy exercise, not fear it. I learnt to run without music, enjoying the world around me instead of pounding beats. I downloaded Strava to track my runs… though quickly deleted it, deciding it wasn’t for me – I didn’t like the competitive nature of the app. That nagging feeling of having to keep up a certain pace to avoid looking like a failure in front of your followers didn’t fit my needs. However, I can see how this works for others, particularly those in training for an event where they hope to achieve a ‘good time’. For the first time in my life I’ve been on runs with a running partner. My boyfriend and I will take the dog out and run ‘a loop’ near where we live. I enjoy the social aspect of running with a companion – I find it provides me with motivation to keep going, although sometimes I do get paranoid about being too slow for him!
This week I made a massive break-through. I enjoyed my run. I took it slowly, I didn’t worry about what time I was clocking and I just enjoyed running for the sake of running.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where I have to force myself to put on my trainers and get outside (I’m very much a fair-weather runner!), and there are often weeks where I don’t run at all. But I’m working on striking that balance.
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