Hey you! Yes, YOU. I just wanted to say, CONGRATULATIONS. You survived the madness of 2020! That alone is something to celebrate.
During this pandemic, we’ve all gone through a plethora of new emotions and experiences. Our once reliable routines have been shattered, and we’ve grown accustomed to some “new normals” in our daily lives.
One of the first things to go for most people is exercise. Isolation and quarantine regulations can make it even harder than normal to move our bodies. Gyms are closed, mask requirements and limits on group sizes make it difficult to even get outside for a quick run. And of course, we can’t rely on the positivity and motivation of our MR weekly runs, on those days we’re just not feeling it. Many of us have taken an “extended break” from running…and many of us are finding it really hard to get moving again.
How did it feel for you to run again? Maybe hard, right? A few years ago, when I decided to “welcome myself back” to running, every session would end in frustration and negative self-talk.
“I’m so slow…I’ll never be able to run as far or as fast as I used to…I’m a failure…it’s not worth it to even try.”
Then I started this very simple practice, which not only kept me moving, but greatly changed my outlook on my entire life.
At the end of each run, no matter how slow or arduous or painful, I would think of one thing I executed perfectly. Maybe I felt really strong, and light on my feet. Maybe I went a tiny bit faster than yesterday. Maybe I took fewer walking breaks than usual. Maybe I chose to sprint up that one daunting hill at the end of the route. Maybe I figured out a way to tie my shoes so they didn’t come undone. Maybe I wore just the right combination of layers so I wasn’t too hot or too cold. Maybe the weather was horrible and I didn’t sleep well the night before, but I still begrudgingly got out the door and got it done. It could be ANYTHING. But no matter how I felt, no matter how unflatteringly I compared myself to the past, I made sure to always find something small to celebrate at the end.
I would think of one thing I executed perfectly.
Then, magically, this teeny tiny mindset shift seeped into all areas of my life. I started noticing the little things that went well, in everything I did, instead of criticising all the other stuff. For example, maybe I totally messed up an important presentation at work. Mentally I might tell myself, “Well, I felt nervous and my speech didn’t go great…but my Powerpoint slides were fantastic!” It just felt so much better to celebrate the good stuff, versus beating myself up over my own expectations.
So as we all try to get back to running and exercise and routines, I encourage everyone to try this technique. Spend 5 seconds at the end of your run and think of one thing you did really, really well, and give yourself a mental high-five. You did it! And as a bonus, take 5 more seconds to remind yourself how great it is to have a body that can do everything that it does. Including running.