Hello, internet people!
Yesterday, we here in Pittsburgh got our first big snow of the season, which means the ground this morning was coated in little patches of ice. Being of the clumsy variety, I’ve fallen down enough times just trying to exist in the world, so I don’t take chances when it comes to running outside in icy conditions.
I love running outside, so the shift to the indoor months is always a bit of a struggle. I woke up this morning, check the temperature and took a peek outside, and almost immediately started trying to talk myself out of my morning run. “You can go after work,” my brain said. I didn’t want to go the extra mile of driving myself to Planet Fitness, didn’t want the monotony of the treadmill.
I almost gave in, but then I remembered–I’m 5 weeks into this training plan, and I promised I wouldn’t quit on myself. I shrugged into gym clothes, grumbling in my head the whole time, and drove myself the exactly 5 minutes it takes to get to Planet Fitness from my new place.
“You can always cut the run short if it seems like you’ll be late to work,” I thought as I drove down the street.
Excuses, excuses. It’s amazing how, no matter how long I’m at this running thing, my brain’s default mode is excuse mode. It’s why I work out in the mornings, why I started my running journey by waking up at 5am and driving straight to the gym before I had a chance to wake up and find an excuse not to.
The thing is, I love the way running makes me feel. After so many months of injury and learning how to live life with chronic pain, I am so thrilled to be back to running. In this fifth week, I’m meeting my edge with 5 minute running intervals, 1 minute walking, but I’m also starting to feel that old strength kick in. My body clicking into that place of “right, we know how to do this.” My first few intervals of both runs this week have felt like flying.
But my brain still wants to talk me out of it, because it’s cold outside and staying under the blankets on my couch for a peaceful, quiet morning is oh so tempting.
I’ve been following the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast’s 8 Week training plan for running your first 5K. It isn’t my first 5K, but I love following structured plans, and the idea of a series of audio guided runs really called out to me. Plus, I’m a long time fan of Kelly Roberts’ work and her approach to running, so I knew her pep talks would be the ones for me.
Taking time to actively reflect on running while running is somewhat new to me. For most of my first year and some change, I spent most of my time trying to figure out how best to distract myself from how hard running was. The most amped up songs. The most engaging podcasts. Trying to maintain interest in the news and infomercials on the TV screens in Planet Fitness.
There’s a lot out there about mindfulness and running these days, so I figured it was worth a shot. As much as Kelly does chat and distract us during the guided runs, she also calls you back to your running, asks you to check in with how you feel.
Even if how you feel is “oh my god, this neighborhood has TOO MANY HILLS” or “oh my god, how am I going to run on a treadmill ALL WINTER LONG?”
This morning was the first time in a while that I found myself on a treadmill in Planet Fitness. It felt so familiar, since my running journey really kicked off at the start of 2018, mid-winter, in the same Planet Fitness. I can remember which treadmill I was on the day I ran 4 miles without stopping for the first time–can remember which album (the then-latest Fall Out Boy) I had on repeat.
So here I was, on a treadmill in Planet Fitness again, all this time later. Trying to get back into this hobby that has become such a big part of my life. Trying to be gentle with myself for “lost time.” And of course, wouldn’t you know it–that was the topic of today’s talk during the Guided Run. Kelly reminds us to shift our mindset from “starting over” to “starting where you are.” I reminded myself that the time off was necessary–I had to let my body heal, figure out what was happening with my health before I could get back to running.
I’m not starting over. I’m starting where I am, from a place of just being grateful I can still run. There was a period this year when I genuinely wasn’t sure that would be the case, when test results could have come back with different answers and shattered my world. I remember how many times I thought “I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t run again.”
I remind myself of that when my brain wants to make excuses. I don’t have to run, I get to run. I’m still scared to look my goal of a half marathon in the face, scared this impossible goal will remain impossible for me. But right now, in this moment, I feel strong, and glad, and ready to keep running.