I never said, "I love running"

In the past I’ve looked at my running shoes by the door and cringed with premeditated disappointment (in myself) and guilt that I would rather do anything else other than run.  I just don’t enjoy pain! Yet my heart races as I sit on the couch because I am so competitive (even just with myself). There is a dualism inside....(like the fact that I shy away from the growing pains of life yet I chose to have a baby with no drugs).

So why am I writing a blog about running? 

Because I’m fascinated with the personal transformation and the empowerment that is fueled by the emotional and physical connection of running. 

I have done a lot of things on my own.  Had many victories and made many mistakes.  But a consistent lesson I’ve learned in life is that “nothing moves forward without support”. I chose to start doing triathlons because I couldn’t afford therapy anymore and I desperately needed to overcome some of the many fears that held me back in life. 

With the support of 2 very good friends I quit smoking and started to train. Whatever successes I have had, have been because I chose to give and to receive support. It’s a correlation that rings true on all levels: physically, emotionally and spiritually.  My head needs the support of my neck, which needs the support of my back which needs the support of my core, etc.  

Just putting one foot in front of the other didn’t do it for the long haul though either.  

The significant factor in my running practices is due to the tremendous support of my coach, my family, my friends, and my running partners. The joy of this particular sport is that it is both individual and/or shared.  Like anything in life it’s really ONLY YOU that has to make the effort and go through with it, but running doesn’t HAVE to be an individual activity. When I run I’m acutely aware that I’m part of a community. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to challenge and inspire a runner.  Happiness is only real when shared...and lone victories may not be victories at all!

Running tests my mind like no other activity I engage in.....because I know I always have the choice to just stop and quit.  (Giving birth to a 10 lb baby with no drugs doesn’t even compare...because lets face it....something “otherworldly” takes over somewhere between the first mind numbing contraction and the last push....and it’s not like you can just quit when you feel like you can’t go on any longer.)  

But why does running seem so effortless for some? Why do I hear people around me constantly gush “I LOVE RUNNING”.  Or I am bombarded with facebook updates on people “just getting back from a 12 mile run...and ready to start my day”.  I used to read those and it made me want to puke!! Feeling demoralized before I start “my” day, which exists after I make breakfast and lunch and get my son to school.

I guess you could call me a flawed perfectionist.  I am definitely my own worst critic.

My mind constantly plays tricks on me and causes me to compare myself to others (faster than me) and sabotage my own success instead of taking life at MY pace and celebrating those victories.  I am not a “pro”.....but I have faced my enemies and taken up my challenges and can celebrate MY successes (as small as they may be in comparison). In that way maybe it’s not where you are at that counts, but where you started from.   

Well...I’ve stopped comparing myself.  I am running.....regardless. That has been the start of a great victory for me that has tossed out a whole lot of comparatives.  My career, my mothering, my vale, who I am.

The benchmark of my new comparison is now myself....how am I doing? How do I feel about myself and my baby steps.

In the past, my highly competitive nature has stopped me from celebrating my own victories. Now I make sure that my MIND is fit first, and the physical aspect of running is an automatic response.  The only time I can go out for a run and truly feel accomplished is to love myself first and keep a mental log of how positive I am staying, not how many miles I completed.

I experienced a great lesson last year when I was at my sisters wedding in Toronto.  One of our good friends is a ‘runner’ (whom I would have NEVER attempted to “go for a run” with but because she was 7 months pregnant at the time I decided that I would be able to hold her pace.  She also had a toddler so we needed to get up around 5am to run before her little one woke up!  

Lessons I learned from running with my sweet friend....

  • BE POSITIVE! No matter what — keep focused and STAY POSITIVE! 

  • Stay aware of your mind, body, spirit connection.  Running is an excellent time for meditation, prayer, self therapy, reflection and bonding!  

  • Keep a pace that is enjoyable and safe! Nothing is worse than going out for a killer run that makes you miserable, negative, and ends up injuring you!!

  • Consistency is the key. I found that by the 3rd time we woke up to run (no matter what) I started enjoying it and even looking forward to it!!  When I used to run once a week or even once every few weeks I would feel like I was always starting over.....I couldn’t get into the “rhythm” of running.  Find the time to get out often!! Even if you aren’t “feeling” up to it. Guaranteed when you put those running shoes on and get out the door you will ALWAYS be glad you did! (something about more oxygen to the brain ;)

  • You DON’T have to be a pro....or a marathon runner to enjoy the benefits of staying in shape (both mentally and physically).  Do yourself a favor....Stop comparing yourself....and just get out there...for you!

Running isn’t just about running....the mental process and growth is much more rewarding than just the physical results.  Even as I write this I am itching to go for a run to put into practice all I’ve been thinking about!

I am excited about this new/old journey and feeling a little accountable to my readers!

Angi Fletcher | Blog: I Never Said I Loved Running