Practice Positivity as a Runner

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One of the best things about my journey as a runner and frankly as a human being is my discovery of loving kindness and adjusting how I look at things. Right now I am not in the best shape of my life, but I am taking it one step at a time. I get very frustrated and I want to skip ahead to feeling awesome and having the level of fitness I had (and surpassing it). It is not easy, but I know that I can learn a lot from the weight gain and fitness setbacks. I am being kind to myself this time around and it makes all the difference.

Changing your perspective on the same events will change your life. Having a gentler view of yourself will lead to greater happiness and better results in the end.

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I remember going out for a meal with someone I’d not met before after running a half marathon. She could not stop talking about how horrible she did. She finished in a time that beat my goal time significantly. I had finished about 45 minutes after she did and while I wasn’t super happy with my result, before she opened her mouth, I felt proud that I had got out there and did my best.

Yet as she droned on and on about how slow she was and how terrible she did, I felt worse than gum on the bottom of her shoe (at least then I would have gotten a better time). I felt sad that my time was so terrible by her standards. Rationally I knew she was just beating herself up and had no thought for how it was making me feel, but I felt terrible all the same.

I just wanted to cry as she kept complaining about how slow she was and I just sat there like a lump on a log trying so hard to hold onto my accomplishment and to not well up with tears right there.

The next day, and many days after, I have thought about how I never want to be that kind of runner. I felt sorry for her (because of her attitude, not her time). I hope she learns to be kinder to herself.

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I love myself. That is why I run. I’m not going to shame myself for not running faster times, longer distances, or losing more weight. I am going to be happy I showed up and tried at all. If I don’t do as well as I like, I am not going to beat myself up over it. I am going to be real with myself of if I could have done better and put in the work. When it comes down to it negativity is going to hold you back from so much happiness as a runner in life.

I have found the best results come from loving kindness and discipline, not shame.

A lot of so-called motivation out there is based on shaming yourself or other runners. This will not make you the best runner you can be. There are a lot of memes that are out there that aren’t particularly useful that focus on negativity.


“There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”

Nope. There is bad weather.

Whenever I hear this I remember I was going to run with this guy and it turned out there was a blizzard and hazardous ice conditions AND it was quickly getting dark. I do not think it was “soft” of me to turn down his invite to go run along a trail that had areas you could easily plummet to your death or serious injury even on a day with perfect conditions. Respect nature, respect yourself, and don’t feel like you need to prove anything.

If this statement is true then I will gladly be “soft” because I value being alive and well enough to run another day. I will not be shamed by myself or anyone else into risking my wellbeing. Trust your intuition, not some snide comment (especially one you read on the internet).

I remember climbing up a mountain with a friend and there was more to go, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing anymore so I told her and guess what…She didn’t call me soft or make fun of me. Rather she was happy to stop there to take photos and be silly and to not have me injure myself. It still was a nice hike and the memories are a lot better than if I had hurt myself trying to prove something.

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I have run on beautiful snowy evenings and frigid cold days where I was the only one in sight in the middle of a normally bustling city. I have run up a mountain in blistering heat. I have run in more thunderstorms and muddy trails than I can count. All were experiences I treasure and I pushed myself in a healthy way, because I listened to my body and did what I had to do. I have at times pushed myself too hard, but loving kindness is letting that go and learning from it. Some of my favorite runs ever where when the weather was too bad for other people, but I felt comfortable with it. I would never shame myself or anyone else for doing what felt safe for them. This isn’t to say make excuses.

Be real with yourself. One of the biggest lessons in running and in life is to learn how to differentiate between a valid excuse and an invalid one. If it challenges you do it. Trust your instincts above all else.

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“Joggers jump up and down at stoplights…Runners just look pissed.”

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We are all runners…some just are more bouncy at intersections! Shaming others and putting yourself on a pedestal won’t make you a better runner, just more judgmental.

I get it. It can be tempting to separate yourself out as a ‘serious runner.’ I have both hopped up and down and I have stood there being annoyed, but in both cases I was just as serious and consistent with my running. I am more likely do those interchangeably based on mood and how often I’m running in a city rather than on fitness level. I am more of a trail runner, so what to do an intersection hardly ever comes up to be perfectly honest…but I kind of want to bounce around just because I’m obstinate in the face of shallow judgements.

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For the record, being a trail runner does not make me any better of a runner (or any worse). For the life of me I can’t imagine picking road running over a trail after having done both, but that is me.

I think every runner should try whatever running experiences interest them. Running trails completely changed me. My love for running became so much deeper and spiritual. There is no comparison for me, but I don’t judge anyone else on how they run. Personally, I like doing road races occasionally for the fancy medals and I love that I have a treadmill, but trail running has my heart. That doesn’t mean that is the only way or the best way. It is just what I like to do. I do agree though, that everyone should give trail running a try if they are even vaguely into running. It is too much fun to not give a go.

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Similarly, I don’t think it is helpful to call the treadmill the “dreadmill” and you are no less a runner if that is where you can run. I got my start on treadmills. Everyone starts somewhere. If I didn’t get on a treadmill I never would have lost all the weight I lost or have seen all the stunning beauty in nature that I have as a trail runner.

It is a privilege to have access to a treadmill and the dread is all in your mind. It is not exactly the way to approach something. I’m a trail runner so a treadmill is about as far as I can get from recreating a trail run, but you know what. I love my treadmill! Right now I can only really walk on it, but I still love it and I hope to start running on it a bit too again. I worked very hard to be able to save up enough money to buy my beautiful treadmill. I am so thankful to have it. I make it interesting by watching shows while on it. It has a great spot for my tablet and I have my TV too. I can watch movies and shows while getting a workout and I don’t have to go out when the weather is just nasty or it is dark and slippery out.

I am no less of a runner if I am running on a treadmill. It isn’t the spiritual experience I get from running on a trail, but it still is pretty damn good. Calling something an unfortunate name like “dreadmill” is going to take something fairly benign act of going on the treadmill and turn it into a negative and make you feel like it isn’t “real running.”

Treat going on the treadmill not as one of dread, but one of being kind to yourself. You are doing the exact same thing, but it will feel a lot better and you might even look forward to it on a crummy day.

No matter where you are at with running be kind to yourself and work hard. And if you are like me and simply dreaming of running hopefully we will get there and as much as I love running, there are many other wonderful things to do, but you won’t get better by putting anyone down — yourself included.

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If you would like to see more motivation head over to Runner’s World.

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