I started running again a couple of weeks ago like I do every spring [after failing to give my treadmill much action over the long winter months]. And I didn't exactly e-a-s-e into it this year; I went full-force.
In fact, over the past two weeks [and two days] I have ran a total of 50kms [approximately 30 miles], at my usual 10 and 1 intervals [running 10 minutes, walking 1 minute].
You could say that I was on a bit of a mission...and I was taking it very seriously. But my mission changed part-way through and I am so much happier because of it. You see, the reason I went into it so hard-core at the beginning was because I was trying to prove something to myself. I wanted to "beat" certain people...even if I was the only one who knew what I was doing.
But then something changed with my mind-set and I asked myself the question: "Why did I start running in the first place?"
Here are some of the reasons:
1) To lose weight
2) To be active and healthy
3) To set a good example for my girls
4) To clear my head
5) To get some alone time - or some one-on-one time with a running buddy every once in awhile
6) To be able to eat stuff like this:
Bottom line: I started running for me. It's personal.
So what did I start to do differently part-way through my 50km madness? I started leaving my Garmin watch at home for my runs. And it has made a world of difference, let me tell you. I no longer have any idea if I'm running a 10 minute mile or a 12 minute mile.
And I don't care.
I know where my mile-markers are so I know when is the approximate time to take my walk break - and when to pick up with the running again. Why do I need a watch then?
Now I run strictly for the enjoyment - yes, enjoyment - of running. I run because of how it makes me feel. I feel in control of my health. I feel released from the stress that was building up during the day. I feel proud of myself for getting out there. I feel good.
I don't need to feel disappointed in myself if I don't reach that mile-marker in a certain amount of time. I don't need to keep looking at my watch and realizing that I'm running slower today and beat myself up if I don't start to pick up the pace. I don't need to worry about if someone else is doing it faster. I don't need to push myself so hard to beat my latest record.
Some of you might think that it's good to have the motivation of "the watch" though...something to push myself to go faster. But why, I ask? Why do we always think that our best isn't good enough? Why do we constantly need to tell ourselves that we can do better?
I'm out there - very consistently - running 3 miles [5km] every time. I'm getting in my exercise - does it matter if I do it in 35 minutes or 32 minutes...or 30 minutes? No, I don't think it does.
I'm exhausted of mentally never feeling as good as someone else. I'm tired of thinking that I have to get out there 5 or 6 days a week. And honestly, I am not a fan of the "no excuses" mantra. Certainly there is danger of letting excuses keep you from doing anything - but NO excuses?
I don't buy that.
Last weekend, for example, there was a day where it would've been a good evening for a run. I was planning to go for a run. But we had had yet another busy day and I hadn't spent much time with my kiddos. So instead I chose to stay home for a change. I joined them on the couch as they watched an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" and I had a bedtime snack with them. I used up the last of the daylight hours to tell my kids that they were more important to me than an evening run. Sure, we may just have been watching TV - but they felt special.
There are many times where I don't feel like running - but I do it anyway. And there are also other times where I make the choice to not head out for a run sometimes. Do I need to beat myself up over it, telling myself that there are NO excuses? I must run...no matter what?!
I am choosing to say no to that. For personal reasons. You might disagree with me, but that's okay.
I need to re-claim the reasons I started running to begin with. With motivation to say yes more than no, certainly. But to say good-bye to the pressure and to doing it to try to be better than somebody else. Or to fit into somebody else's mold of what they think I should be doing.
I'm not saying I will never wear my watch again. Especially if I am specifically training for something and want to set a specific goal for a specific event - because yes, sometimes it is good to have something to strive towards. But as a rule, I want to find freedom in my running.
*This post is also posted on my Mission: Possible blog.