|Stretching Before a Run|
The year I turned 40, I rethought my life. After having had five back-to-back pregnancies, I had let myself become overweight and sedentary. My eating habits were poor, and my health was beginning to fail. I was a feeble example to my five young children, who were beginning to emulate me. I did not like what I had become.
On New Year’s Day 2013, I purged my home of all junk food, vowed to no longer eat take-out food, limited my intake of processed food, and monitored my portion size. I vowed to exercise for at least one hour daily. I stuck to my plan and lost 80 lbs and 5 clothing sizes. I had returned to my former high school size.
Soon afterwards, I felt powerful, and out of the blue decided to start running. This was a tall order for me, as I had never before run in my life—not even as a normal-weight child. Past attempts had left me winded, or with a stitch in my side. I put on my running shoes and psyched myself up, but could only make it to the end of my short street. I was breathing hard and could not push myself on. The pit of my stomach was sore, and my legs felt heavy.
I did not give up, and on the next try, I made it about one kilometer to my childrens’ school. I was red and winded, but felt so proud and accomplished! I kept up my attempts, until in just a few weeks, I was able to double my distance and make it all the way home from my run, without stopping mid-way. In short order, I had tripled my distance and was running for 30 minutes at a time.
My newfound success made me question what had held me back from running my whole life? For example, why could I do one hour on the elliptical trainer and treadmill at the gym, but not have enough stamina to complete one simple run? Why could I swim for one kilometer in the pool, but initially not run the same distance?
After some thought, I concluded that it was the monster in my mind that was telling what I could and could not do. It was the monster in my mind deciding if I could or could not succeed. To overcome this mentality on my runs, I would clear my mind and create simple rhymes or phrases to push myself onward and forward:
“I run, I run for fun. I run, I run for fun.”
|Cooling Down After The Run|
The simple rhymes would block out my self-negativity, and help me keep rhythm. The rhymes would help me focus on my forward motion, and ignore my too-heavy limbs, hot body, dry throat and chapped lips.
“Up up, going up. Up up, I am up.”
On paper, they look like Seussisms, but these simple words encouraged me up and over a menacing hill during a run. They also distracted me, and helped me ignore the monster in my mind.
“Home home, going home. Home home, almost home.”
And these words reminded me that my goal was in sight: home, and gave me the inspiration to continue running without stopping short and disappointing myself.
|Unlaced After the Run|
After I had successfully completed several runs, I was delighted that my 9-year old son had shown an interest in running with me. I told him that yes, he could accompany me on some runs—and he loved it! Then my 6-year old son also caught the running bug:
“I run, I run with mom. It is fun, to run with mom.”
Now running truly is a family affair, and there is no room to bring along the monster in my mind.