Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life Lessons Gained from Running

Maybe the title is a bit dramatic, but I was feeling inspired to write a blog after going for a 5k run yesterday morning. I sat down and typed the title, then lost my inspiration, or got distracted, or something. So here I am trying to retreive some of the life lessons I felt like I had learned after running yesterday morning.

My run yesterday was on a treadmill at the Field House. I feel kind of awkward running on the track there in the morning. It is mainly inhabited by older people who are part of a heart health program. I also find it nice to run on the treadmill because then I know exactly how far I have gone, and how fast. I find running on the track I lose count of the number of laps I have run, so I appreciate having a mini computer to keep track of it for me.

Running gives a person a lot of time to think. Sometimes I think about life, work, etc. but mostly I think about how fast I am going, how my body is feeling and trying to convince myself to keep going. I think this is where the life lesson comes in. I think that running is at least 50% mental. I will agree that you do need to have a certain level of physical fitness to run. Though, everyone has to start somewhere, and you will never learn to run, if you never try. So once you drag your body out there to run, and you start running, it can get really easy to convince yourself that it's too hard....that you can't do it.....that you didn't eat before so you don't have the energy.....that you feel tired.....that you have a cramp in your side so you should stop.....etc etc. I am not saying that it isn't important to listen to the messages your body is giving you (ie pain due to injury or over exertion) but I always have quite the mental dialogue when I am running. It often sounds something like this:

"Wow, this is really hard this morning. Well if I can make it to 10 minutes I will give myself a walking break. No, you can run longer than 10 minutes. How are you going to run for 2 1/2 hour or more if you can't run 10 minutes. Okay, I will keep running, but maybe I should slow down a bit. But if I don't slow down I will be finished sooner. Okay I'll try keeping it at 5.5mph and see how long I can take it. My knees feel a little funny, not sore, just feel aware of them. I wonder how I look when I run. I hope I don't look like an elephant stampeding. Wow, look at that old lady with the walker boogie-ing around the track, I hope I can walk that fast when I am 80. Phew, my face feels red. I wonder if anyone is watching me. Stand up a little straighter, shoulders back. Maybe I should try a sprint, see how long I can go at 7mph. Phew, okay, now I need a walking break. Thirty seconds should do it. No, maybe 45 seconds. Okay, Angie, back at it, and no more walking until you are finished!! If you are tired you get to keep going, if you want to slow down you will go faster. You can do it!"

So I think the life lesson is that negative self-talk can really decrease your ability to acheive a goal. For everyone who things "I could never do that", whether they are referring to losing weight, running a marathon, quitting smoking, getting a new job, going back to school at age 56, becoming a parent, or whatever seems impossible. Imagine if you took on the idea of "I can do this" "I will try my best, because I am strong, and I know inside of me that I can do this!" I think that a lot of people would be a lot healthier, and satisfied with their lives. I don't think it is always easy, but it can be awfully easy to talk yourself out of doing something.

I will end this post with a quote that I read recently that made me stop and think:

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. - Unknown

1 comment:

Jay said...

A most encouraging and insightful post, sweetheart!