Running is so much greater than times, heart rates, paces, races and fitness. Have you ever stopped to ask ‘why do I run’? Or maybe even ‘why don’t I run’?
I run because of the simplicity. It’s not overcomplicated, I can run as I feel, one foot and then the next. I can run anywhere I go. A place to connect to the body and breath. I feel free when I’m running. When I can’t run, I jog, when I can’t jog I walk. No judgement, no pressure, just trusting what I am feeling and simply moving.
For many years I ran professionally. I travelled the world racing, training and learning how to improve my running. From Africa, to Europe to the United States, I ran. And beyond the layer of competition and racing, I found that no matter where I went, I met people who loved running. Just running for what it brings to their lives. No matter if they were winning Olympic medals or walk/ running 5km, they were connected through the joy of running.
If we can drop any expectation. If we can let go of comparison of how others run or how even we once ran. If we can acknowledge that the mind will think up all sorts of reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t and can at times have a negative bias. If we can get excited about starting from where we are, no matter where that may be. Then we are unlocking potential. Potential to reconnect with the joy and feeling that running can bring on the daily.
When starting out, it’s easy to believe that running is far too challenging. Too intimidating. Have a fear of being the slowest or not finishing. All these are totally normal. However, once we drop any expectation and let go of past beliefs, then running can provide a sense of freedom. Running no longer becomes a chore. In-fact it becomes a privilege. A ritual. An opportunity to create space in the day. It doesn’t need a membership, it doesn’t require any fancy equipment and it can be done anywhere for any amount of time.
I remember training in Kenya as a competitive runner. It’s was so simple. Run and enjoy running. It was inspiring to listen to the Kenyans talk about running. It was always a gift, something perhaps innate. Not to mention there was always a sense of comradery amongst runners, regardless of speed or distance.
Personally, I still run every day. I listen to my body. When I am tired, I run easy, or even walk. When I feel good I enjoy to push a little. I no longer have to set a PB every time I go out the door. Sometimes my favourite part of the day is going for a run after work and being totally mindful of the art of running and how my body is responding. And this is the foundation of a good training program. Listening to your body, rather than relying solely on numbers enjoy the process. Enjoy the gift of running.
Definitely set a goal, as it will help with self-efficacy and commitment, however enjoy the journey and process rather than being purely focused on the result. A goal might look like being able to run continuously for twenty minutes regardless of pace or even something like entering in a fun run. All goals will look different, however it’s the feeling of running that will connect.
If you are just starting out, start slowly. Lace up the shoes and head out the door for twenty minutes. Have the mantra in your head- “Run when I can, walk when I need to”. No expectation, no comparison to some idea of what you perhaps were once capable of or what others are doing. Just fall into the freedom of movement and breath. No matter how fast or how long.
Having people to run with is also a great way to get started. Even though it might seem from afar that run groups are for ‘serious runners’ and that it will be hard to keep up, you will be pleasantly surprised just how accommodating and welcoming most crews are. There are many run groups and communities all around Australia and the world. Run crews that are open to all levels and value community and comradery more so than speed barriers. Some examples are Lululemon Run Crew (every Wednesday morning at 6am), The Finshr (every Sunday 7.30am down the surfcoast), AM.PM (every Tuesday and Thursday), 440 run club (Saturdays around Australia), the Perth Run Collective and many more if you are looking for a community to connect with.
Enjoy the process of running.