Are you a runner? What happens if you don’t run?
If I miss my run, or two, or a week’s worth, it makes me grumpy and irritable. I start to doubt myself. Then, little negative voices start chipping away at my confidence. Maybe I won’t be able to do the race now that I’ve messed up my training plan. I’m not going to be ready for it, anyway. I should have picked something easier, or something further out so I’d have more time to train.
Then, it gets worse. I go beyond self-doubt to plain old fear.
I’m not really even a runner any longer. Maybe I never really was. Maybe running isn’t compatible with being a mom to three little people. Maybe I should just quit altogether.
Yeah, quit. That’s a good idea. Then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty every time I walk past my running shoes, which are sitting in the middle of the floor so that I have to step over them when I walk into the room (a little trick that is supposed to make me decide to put them on and go for a run when I’ve been avoiding it, but usually just makes me trip over them).
My attitude and my negative thoughts spiral down and get darker and deeper and sadder and more self-defeating. I don’t want to run anywhere (except possibly away from me!)…so I don’t go out and run…and that makes me want to run even less.
The only cure?
Stop stepping over my shoes and actually put them on. Go out the front door and start running. Put one foot in front of the other until the negative voices go away.
All last week, the thought of my upcoming 8.5 mile long run loomed over me like a dark shadow. Anytime I thought of it, the knot of dread in the pit of my stomach tightened with the certainty that I was unprepared and doomed to fail. The little negative voices were deflating me, their hissing persistence defeating me before I even started: Your training is inadequate. You only ran once last week. Your IT band is really hurting. You didn’t sleep well last night. The weather is too cold for shorts and too warm for tights, and whichever one you choose is going to be wrong. Your favorite socks aren’t clean. It will be too hard. You just don’t want to. No, more than that…you can’t do it.
I can’t do it.
We had hired a babysitter, though, and George was coming with me. I had to do it.
The thing is, I don’t need to quit. I just need to go run.
There’s something about lacing up running shoes and leaving the house that tells those ugly, negative voices where they can go and how to get there. Every quarter mile, every half mile, every mile that ticks by, they are further and further behind me, fainter and fainter. I can go further than they can follow me.
On Saturday, I talked back to them. I told them, “SHUT UP. I AM DOING THIS.” I said it over and over. Eventually, they got weaker, and I dropped the “shut up” because it was making me tired. Then I ran until I couldn’t hear those voices at all.
By the time we were done, I had a new voice in my head…and it was saying, “I did it, and I can do it again.”
I ran the 8.5 miles. It was slow, but I finished it all. It was tough, but I finished it all. I was worn out by the end, but I finished it all.
I only have one more long run before my half-marathon. It’s a ten miler, scheduled a week from Saturday. The funny thing is, I’m not worried about it at all now. If I can do 8.5, I can definitely do ten. No problem.
I’m leaving my shoes out where I can see them, though…just in case.