Updated: Jun 3, 2019
I'm feeling inspired to write today after a few quiet weeks. Perhaps it's the new meds they have me on (but hey I am still me) but I have something to share...I have just been for my second run of the year, well of the past two years and can confirm the following: I still lovehate to run.
I've literally just got back from completing about 30 minutes total exercise, of which over half was brisk walking (thanks to the dulcet tones of Michael Jordan on the C25k app- see below) and I feel a calm sense of motivation, a feeling which I don't often experience. For anyone stumbling across this blog and who hasn't read this - the 'run' was always going to be hard going, between a low basic fitness level and recovery from recent procedures on (the house of cards that is) my pelvic floor earlier this year.
As I started todays run program, which was day 2 of the NHS Couch to 5k (a free app for those interested) I hit play on my everythingthatDavidGuettahaseverproduced playlist and focussed on the lyrics to my favourite warm up song - 'Flames' featuring the amazing singer/songwriter Sia Fuller. I actually enjoyed the warm up walk, feeling my body come alive a little more with each step.
As I approached the end of the 5 min warm up, as Michael encouraged me to first 60 second run, I tried to conjure up the advice of Rachel Cullen, whose memoir Running for My Life I have read 90% and which inspired me to go for run number 1 on day two of being on new meds. I tried to remember that I it's not about whether I like running, or whether running likes me - its about what running can give to me in mind as well as body.
I would say that overall during the 'run', I *hated* the hardness of it, the beginnings of a stitch, the feeling of being out of breath, the sweat, the feeling of moving my body as if through treacle, the fact I was squinting (sans sunglasses in case they fell off) and also the self consciousness as cars and other runners and dog walkers passed me by at points.
Plus the mundanity of running a very boring route, hoping no one saw me as I literally stopped halfway through and turned a full 180 degrees (think roadrunner) to be sure I would make it home again and not 'overdo it' or get lost. (Literally I have no sense of direction as my years getting lost running in my small corner of south west London showed me).
I also hated the build up to the run, making myself do it even though it was the last thing I felt like doing this morning. Those uncomfortable and intrusive daily feelings that I have that I should be doing something more productive, like going to work, earning a salary, making a difference, studying, tidying...anything but spending more time on me. I literally barged through those feelings today, picked up my phone and headphones and walked out of the door.
For those interested, the run took the following format: 5 mins warm up brisk walk, then alternate 60secs jog with 90secs brisk walk (8 times, for 20 mins) then a final 5 min walk warm down. The first and last of the 60 sec runs were the easiest, whereas during the ones in the middle I dreaded them starting and ending as the walking seemed to only make my legs hurt more. All in all, I did not enjoy the exercise, but I love the fact that I have put one foot in front o the other and done it.
Perhaps this is a test of whether I can commit to doing something beneficial and not need to enjoy the process as I value the end goal more, the paradoxical calming and motivating effects on my mind and body.
Sometimes the universe is trying to tell us something. I spotted Rachel Cullen's book whilst buying another book online and bought it on a whim around 6 months ago, and I started reading it last week as I had run out of library books and spotted it on the bookshelf. I have in the past year found myself surrounded by runners and ex-runners, and had numerous conversations about how to approach running.
One thing that has come across and really surprised me is that even some people who have completed a marathon say that they don't enjoy running, they enjoyed setting an reaching a goal and they trained not because they enjoyed it but because the payoffs for their mind and mental health were huge. This was a revelation to me and thoughts of running have been wandering around my brain for some time. The tipping point was conversations with some of my friends who have started going to a running club, a university friend who has recently completed her first marathon and written an essay on her experience as well as Rachel's searing memoir of her journey from non-runner to runner.
I vowed at the end of my run today that I will probably continue to lovehate to run and that this is probably part of the benefits to my mental health as I test my mind and body each time I set out. Even though I don't want to and I am no good at it (yet) I am showing myself there is hope as long as I don't give up.
Off to tweak my playlist and get my week 2 runs in the diary. Yikes!