Running, especially running hard, requires a sort of submission. You submit your body and mind to the work. You submit to the workout on the schedule. You must be all in, acutely aware of your body. You dedicate 10 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour or two hours to put one foot in front of the other, careening or sometimes dragging across the pavement and gravel.
You resolve to hold steady even while you’re unsteady. You try to be careful not to hurt yourself and are listening for shin splints and swollen knees and too-tight hip flexors, but you also try to push yourself. It’s a delicate balance—to hold back and push at the same time. But, that’s what it is to be fully integrated in the run.
You must be sure to get your body in the right state, which is to say that you slaughter the doubt as much as you can before you lace up the shoes. Sometimes, you need to do it again and over again and over again every 15 seconds on your run. You must slaughter to free up space for your mind to wander aimlessly (except it’s not aimless, because here, on the run, is the best, healthiest place for your mind to wander). You decide to be persistent with snarky, firm comebacks to the lactic acid building in your muscles and the relentless southerly wind gusts.
You also murder doubt’s cousins, shame and negativity, so that you can invite positive self-talk, encouragement, and joy to the table. That’s what running can teach us—how to consistently slaughter the unkind parts of our mind and sit at the table with kindness.
It can be cultivated. With every long run, short run, or speed workout, you can choose to cultivate self-kindness. For example, I can say to myself, “Good job, Alexis” at the end of the run. I can look at my red, sweaty face in the bathroom mirror and think, “Yep, you worked hard.” I can guzzle water too fast which makes it slip out my mouth and slide down my neck—I can laugh at myself. Running can teach us that too.
Even on the runs that are rough, that make me wonder if I’ll be physically ill due to the heat or my leaden feet or the ones I have to cut short because of an injury, I can still cultivate kindness. I’ll get back out there again, the next day or perhaps the one after that. Because everyone has bad runs. Elite runners, me, you, the neighbor down the street. The thing is through, that their personhood hasn’t changed simply because of a bad run. They are still the same wonderful, uniquely gifted person. More than their bad run or good run, for that matter.
They are a whole person. You are a whole person, more than a good run or a bad run, more than a good day or a bad day. The run is simply a teacher. What do you learn?
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
If you find yourself wanting to slaughter those doubts on a run or a walk or just in being a person in this world, I created a resource to help with self-talk. The 60 Second Self-Talk Check-In is all yours when you subscribe to my email list.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a step-by-step guide designed to help you figure out if you’re lying to yourself or not. I don’t make you praise your thumbs or champion your left pinky toe, but it probably will still feel a bit disjointed at first. My hope is that you use this guide to pause for 60 seconds, hold captive your thoughts, and speak good truth to yourself.