This morning, I went for a run. THE WORST RUN EVER. Well, probably not. I’ve had some pretty bad ones. But it was right up there.
No, I didn’t take my mat. That would have been stupid. But I was dealing with the same mindset as I told you about last time so feel it would be good to continue the theme and share it with you now. A more extreme version of that mindset in reality, because everything about running is more extreme. I am more extremely bad at it. It takes a more extreme amount of effort. The voices in my head shout extremely loudly.
So firstly, there were the reasons not to run to deal with. The excuses. It was too hot. I had a head cold. I was really tired after a weekend away. There’s always an excuse not to do something if we want one. But I was running with someone else and didn’t want to let her down. Except in the end, I wasn’t running with her at all. It became clear very quickly there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with her. So the normal voices whispering ‘This is going to be really hard’; ‘I’m not sure I can do this’; ‘Who do I think I am to even attempt this?’ turned into louder voices.
Loud voices clamouring for attention that could not be ignored.
‘Look at her. This is her first run outside in six months and she’s still way faster than me.’
‘She hasn’t trained all winter and she’s still way faster than me.’
‘She hasn’t even been to the gym in a couple of weeks and she’s still way faster than me.’
‘She’s suffering from really bad hay fever and she’s still way faster than me.’
‘I’m supposed to be motivating her and she’s still way faster than me.’
You get the drift.
My calves ached; I had a stitch; the sweat was stinging my eyes; I had a twinge in my lower back. I was miserable.
Right up to the point where I told her to run on ahead and not wait for me. Where I took the pressure off both of us. Where I could stop feeling guilty for not keeping up and she could stop feeling guilty for running on.
Yes, I had motivated her. If we hadn’t met up and I hadn’t described the route and the destination, she would not have had the motivation to get out running at all. And there must have been a bit of ‘Well, if she can do it, anyone can.’ That seems to be the main way I motivate people these days.
So I had no reason to feel guilty. No reason to feel under pressure. Not reason to compare.
Yet again, you see, comparison had drained the energy and motivation out of me. And the joy. When I managed to focus on myself and my own level and my own performance, it was better. Not pleasurable, but better.
And when I finished, there was a massive sense of achievement. I had run (mostly!) six miles. I stretched out and had a shower…and then sought out my mat for five minutes of quiet meditation. And what a glorious feeling that was! Breathing deep into my tired lungs. Relaxing all those aching muscles. Letting my head rest and the voices be stilled.
Isn’t it true that some of the other activities we share in can inform our yoga practice and teach us about ourselves? Just as our yoga practice can inform our other activities. There’s a crossover in each and every area of our life. Digging deep and getting through that run this morning can improve my resilience and determination in holding a yoga pose or dealing with a tricky situation at work.
There’s so much to learn from finding something really, really hard.
Which is so much easier to say after the event.
With love from a woman and her mat x