You can’t do this. Give up. It would be so easy to give up. Is that your hip hurting? It's so far to go. Face it, you just aren't a runner.
Around 5 minutes into my run, and my brain would be screaming at me, keeping up a constant barrage of abuse.
This post is going to be a slightly more personal one, in case that wasn't already clear. I have never been particularly fit, sporty, or athletic. I was the kid who ducked when the netball was thrown to them, that avoided walking near football games in case a rogue kick sent the ball my way and I’d have to somehow return it with my weak excuse for a kick. Okay, yes, I still do both these things. I grew up in awe of ‘runners’, always thinking I might like to do that someday but I didn’t have the right body, legs, lungs. I started time and time again. Here’s an embarrassing confession: I’ve bought, (and sold) four treadmills. FOUR. Have I painted a thorough enough picture yet?
Fast forward to today. I ran for 30 minutes this morning, and got to my goal of over 5kms. For those of you who run regularly, this wont seem so impressive, but this has been a goal for about a decade now. I’m on the final week of a couch to 5k training programme, which I started 8 weeks ago.
So why now? Well the reason is twofold. One motivation was the fact that we decided to climb Mt Fuji in September, and I didn’t want to struggle the whole way up. But the other reason is related to my work. I’m constantly asking clients to put aside their discomfort, borrow some therapeutic confidence, overcome hurdles, push themselves… and so on. Therapy is a largely uncomfortable process, and I acknowledge that wholeheartedly. The last thing a person with debilitating anxiety wants to do is to venture into situations that will provoke anxiety. The last thing a person with depression wants to do is things that require the energy they simply don’t have. Opening up about past trauma, difficult topics, embarrassing things… the list goes on. Therapy is hard.
And so, because every day my clients are making room for uncomfortable feelings, sitting with distress, and tolerating crappy thoughts in pursuit of goals they want to reach…. I felt like I needed to do the same. I needed to put aside 32 years of the same thought pattern: You don’t have the body for this. Others do this, not you. Your hip already gets sore most days, do you really want to make it angry?
I badgered everyone I knew for tips. Here are the two I got time and time again:
1. Don’t think, just go. Put your shoes on and get out the door. You’ll be into your run before you know it, and your brain wont have time to put your through that horrendous procrastination process.
2. Just keep going. Ignore the mind pirates, and keep going.
That’s it. I was expecting special nutrition tips and gear recommendations but it seems there’s no magic answer. Go, and then keep going.
I wish I could say I enjoyed the process. I really didn’t. I felt good after I finished each time. But not during. Which I suppose is the whole point of sitting through discomfort. It’s the after that you’re after. The reward is getting through the yuck, and to where you want to be. I don’t see any marathons in my near future but for now I’m celebrating where I’ve made it to now.
Of course, I need to make the disclaimer that listening to your body is always important. Rest, stretch, listen, care for it. But make sure it’s not your brain telling you that you caaaan’t do this. And of course, it doesn’t have to be running – that was just my personal demon.
To everyone in uncomfortable therapy, respect. To everyone doing other uncomfortable stuff in service of your goals, respect.
Go. And keep going.
See you all on the other side, Mt Fuji on Wednesday - here I come!