Then, I tweaked back at work while finishing up a catering order. So, even though it is PERFECT outside for running (just finished storming and is bright out), I’m trying to rest my back and help calm the spasms. I’ll use today to share about how I started running and blab a little bit about the mental aspects of running.
In 2011, I started running. I had run for the sake of other sports or very inconsistently before, but would NEVER have considered myself a “runner” before then. I had hit the high score on the scale that January (around 280), and needed to make some lifestyle changes.
I enlisted a couple of my best friends, Ryan and Adam, to help me run. Well, I asked Ryan to help and then Adam wanted to but I pushed him away because I’m a jerk. Eventually, Adam would be re-enlisted after I gained some confidence. Which is what Ryan helped me with the most.
Ryan and I went out several times to run. The first few were pretty brutal. I would be very excited for about a half mile, and then my head would hurt. Or my sides. Or my feet. Or…or….or. Mostly Ryan would ignore me and keep going, which was the right thing to do because it really pissed me off AND it minimized my ability to complain. The reality of the first few runs/walks/whines was that it hurt. Mostly, it was because I wasn’t used to it.
My mind yelled, “THIS ISN’T YOU, YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” And things like:
you’re wasting your time, you’ll always be fat, you weren’t made to run, just forget about it, look at the parts of you that keep moving even when you stop running, people can see how big you are, IT HURTS, you should just find your chair and nap, you don’t deserve to feel good about yourself, it won’t change anything….
One run, I nearly ran the whole time without stopping. Go me!! Along with my perfectionist side saying “Listen to the ALMOST, think about the ALMOST. Almost. ALMost. ALMOST…..” I hate that word.
The next time, I had run the whole time and was pretty content with that until about .10 miles from home. At that point, Ryan told me to sprint and “drain my tank”. My tank was already pretty drained, so I pretended not to hear. Then he yelled, “Come on, sprint through that stop sign, quit holding back.” My mind still protested with the usual BS of “I can’t, I won’t, I’m not _____”, my body certainly was not itching for any more punishment, but something in my spirit broke a little that day. My heels went high behind me, my mouth gasped for air, my face probably looked like I was having a bowel movement, and my arms flailed wildly until the stop sign was safely behind me.
After my gut and butt stopped shaking and my lungs gulped a few fresh breaths, I raised my head. I must have gave Ryan a pretty intense look because he asked me what it meant. It felt like I had been flying (like in the really cool dreams we’ve all had, but more real). I had just had fun while running!!!
We stretched and went inside to half-watch American Ninja Warrior or WWE or whatever was on. As we were talking, Ryan gave me a new sound bite to play. “You don’t realize what you are capable of. You get stuck in thinking about it. You can do so much more than you think you can.”
That day I learned that to improve meant that I was going to have to find a new story to tell about myself. Sure, I was fat and lazy and took poor care of myself, but story I needed to tell didn’t end there. The new story needed to acknowledge those things as descriptive and not prescriptive. The belief that what is is what will always be is a lie. We can chance. I need to say “Yes, those things are true, but I’m moving in a new direction.”
Shortly after this, I set a goal to run a half marathon. Each week or so, I added an extra mile to my long run: 4 miles, 5 miles, etc. After 5 miles, everything I ran became “the longest I’d ever run” and I got to celebrate each new accomplishment.
That’s what I love about running. People can run with you, but they can’t run for you. Every step is your accomplishment that no one else can claim as their own and no one can take away from you.
Thank you to Ryan, Adam, Kim, and the countless others who have given me a better story about my life to tell and live.
What story do you tell about yourself that needs to be retold by a good friend? Give yourself the grace of not having to be perfect so you can go after something new and better! Maybe its time to see if you can get that “I’m flying” feeling back!
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Prov 23:7