A while ago, I was on a run, and felt really angry and frustrated with myself. I wanted to be moving faster, but I just felt so sluggish and weak. Why was I even trying? I thought my body was rebelling against me, and not doing what I wanted it to do.
Then, I thought about puppies.
Random, I know. Let me explain.
Imagine, if you will, you are trying to teach a very cute and wiggly puppy how to sit and stay. The puppy sits, but then, maybe she gets distracted by a noise outside. Or maybe her tail starts wagging, and she’s trying so hard to stay seated…but after a while she just can’t stand being far away from you, and comes scampering over for a treat and a snuggle. She’s trying so hard to please you and do the right thing, but, she just has to un-learn a few habits first. You’re aware this takes some time. And, you can’t be mad at her when she’s trying so hard! All you both can do is try again, and again, until she gets it.
I started imagining my body was like this little puppy. It was working hard. It was trying to understand what my mind wanted, but there were just some old habits that were getting in the way. Suddenly, instead of being mad at myself, I felt a tremendous amount of patience and compassion, for myself and my running journey.
Our bodies are doing amazing work, all the time. Every little movement, morsel of food, hormone-triggering interaction…all of these stimuli are constantly held in an incredible balance, to keep us alive. I mean, have you ever thought about how miraculous it is that your body will heal itself if you, say, get a paper cut? Or how neural pathways can be re-routed, so someone who is seriously injured, can learn to walk again?
What I realised on that run was, my body and I are on the same team. We want to succeed, and to live. There’s no point in getting mad at myself for not being stronger, or faster, or somehow “better” than I am. Having goals are great, but not at the expense of deeply appreciating and respecting where I am, right now.
While coming back from a long break, it was important for me to remember that my body is doing the absolute best it can for me, at any given moment. And, just like that little puppy, maybe it gets a little confused during the learning or re-learning process. So it’s my job to be patient, kind to myself, and just keep trying, until I get where I want to go.
Your challenge for the next few runs: appreciate what your body can do, right now. Don’t think about where you want to be in the future. Enjoy the awareness that you are learning, or re-learning, how you want to move. And maybe surreptitiously give yourself a congratulatory cuddle.