I never liked to run growing up. I really dreaded it actually. It built up a lot of anxiety.
Into adulthood I tried to run a few different times, but never had enough fitness so it was always really unconfortable and never seemed worth the pain.
A few years ago I was asked by a client to join a group marathon team. I bravely said yes, swayed by a promised walk/run methodology. My husband and I started training and the first few weeks were supposed to be incremental and "doable" but they were brutal for me and it wasn't getting better. I was just miserable.
I had occassional power moments where I'd tell myself, if I can go through labor and have a baby I can run this last stretch.
The attempted mental toughness should have made me proud, but I honestly didn't feel powerful. I felt weak, unhappy, in pain, and doing it for someone else just made me mad.
With every pound of my foot on the pavement my heart would whisper, "this isn't right"
The effort fizzled by all parties involved and I couldn't have been more relieved.
I managed to keep away from running since the marathon training.
I've always appreciated some practice of "fitness". Since high school I've enjoyed a particular pilates DVD I bought at Target. At different times I've been a gym member with a basic elliptical and weights routine. I was introduced to Rodney Yee AM yoga several years ago that I've appreciated. But, with work and kids a regular routine for fitness has struggled to find its place.
I was really trying to find where I could build it back in when COVID-19 hit and we all had to stay home. Life and business slowed down and it was much easier for me to find the time.
I kept seeing a fitness app advertised called Aaptiv. I downloaded it and started to see what it had. I chose my focus areas as yoga and stress relief. To start me off it propogated some activties for every day of the week. I could go in and manage them as I wanted to. I scanned it and saw meditation and stretching every day. Great! That was perfect.
Then three days in a run was suggested. With time, bandwidth and a litttle encouragement I felt emboldened and gave it a try. I knew I was likely to want to give up, so when the trainer told me to set a goal I thought, "just get through this no matter what happens. Stay open. You never know." By the end I was totally done. My chest hurt, the back of throat tasted like pennies and I wasn't recovering quickly. I liked the trainer, Jaime McFaden, and I liked the idea of being successful, but once again I really didn't like the reality of running and didn't feel like it was worth the pain.
The next Friday the running came up again. I looked over the course options and saw one that was still walking/jogging but it was talking about stopping to smell the roses. I took the bait. That one had longer walking intervals and I enjoyed myself much more. It still had me pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I know that that is generally supposed to be a good thing, but it was sucking a lot of my energy and I was really nervous to "work out" any of the other days of the week because I felt like I had to store the bandwidth to step into my fears and pains just the one day.
After doing two Fridays in a row I figured out a little bit more of what Aaptiv offered and found an entire walking catelogue of classes. By contrast to the intermittent jogging that was draining me physically and emotionally the idea of walking made me feel really excited. Now THAT I can do. A fitness app with endless walks? I was suprised. Walking had always been my weak cop out to not running. It had gotten a bad rep.
So I started to walk for 10-15 min each morning. I was in heaven. Spring was coming out. The cherry blossoms were going. I was showing up to be active, but it wasn't uncomfortable or stressful like being active outside really has been for me my whole life. Jaime had some walking classes and I also found another trainer I really liked, Katie Horwich. She has this super upbeat voice that made me laugh. She made me think of Anna Kendrick as Poppy in trolls. At first it felt over the top, but so was me carving out time to go outside every day, so what the heck.
Then I started to notice that even with walking I was feeling stronger and my movement was easier. It made me feel more capable and emboldened me to start trying on little challenges more often. So when my trainer would tell me I could walk or jog I started to jog more of the time. It felt magical. Running was doable? Running...this thing which had always been terrible even in small doses, right from the start anytime I tried it. By choosing to do walking, something I felt absolutley calm and capable of doing, I felt content enough to keep showing up. It was easy and joyful. In showing up every day I got stronger and felt more confident. It expanded what felt easy and joyful. I felt equipped to take on little challenges and proud that I accomplished them.
It started to teach me that what people preach about running and tackling challanges isn't wrong, but if you go about it in a way that isn't right for you, you'll hit a wall everytime. You're not a failure, you just need to do you.
It was only once I chose to do something that made me feel safe and awesome that I was able to show up every day, stay present with myself, expand my mind, learn new things, grow, get stronger a little at a time, and build an authentic space for feeling my power.
Whenever I was "trying to get fit" before or "trying to run" it was for other's expectations and always under the weight of a fixed standard I was surely falling short of.
Once I set my own space, doing only exactly what I wanted to do at the pace I was happy to sustain, I flourished.
I have felt the confidence drain and the fear rise when I think of this journey being in anyone's hands but my own. One time on a Jaime walk/jog she said, "I'm right here with you! We're a team today." I actually felt my stress level spike when she said that because it was this idea that someone else was there with her pace that would eclipse mine and her expectations and comparisons that I worried to fall short of. I realized the baggage I had. I didn't shame myself for it. I just observed how important it was for me to do this journey alone. Little by little I've shown myself what I can do and acheived ever increasing confidence for what I'm capaable of.
I never liked to run because it was always someone else's game that I was failing at. Now I've redefined the space. It's all mine. And every day it's my own choices to the end of my own desires.
The power of listening to myself, honoring my best sense of what's right for me, having compassion for myself inspite of my fears...these are the things that have empowered me more than anything else ever has in my life.