Hello again, runners! I hope this blog has been a little helpful in giving you some tips and tricks for getting back into your running routine. Soon, I’ll be sharing some ideas for getting creative on your solo runs, and some quotes to ponder while you’re getting your miles in. But today, I’d like to start unpacking a deeper theme for all of us to consider:
Why do I run?
I was always a very, very undisciplined gym-goer. Many of my friends loved it, but I always asked myself, what’s the point? Then I trained for my first half marathon, and really connected to the idea of having a goal, versus exercising because I “should”. It was way more fun for me to try to get faster at a certain distance, or to use running as an excuse to travel to a new city and hang out with my other running friends.
And then came 2020. Everything was cancelled. All the races I was looking forward to, gone. All the MR events that used to keep me accountable were wiped off my calendar. I had no external goalposts to aim for, so, I stopped running as much. Again I asked myself, what’s the point?
The past months have become an opportunity for me to reshape my relationship with running. When all the races, events, and running buddies are gone, what internally drives me to lace up my shoes day after day?
I was using fear as a motivator, instead of curiosity and love.
Over the summer, I thought, “Well, this isolation period could be over at any time, so, I better stay in shape, just in case things are back to normal soon!” As the months dragged on, I realised two things. One, that wasn’t going to happen. Two, I was using fear as a motivator, instead of curiosity and love.
So from there, I tried to focus on how much my body enjoyed the sensations of moving, and running. I paid attention to my breathing. I noticed how my feet felt as they hit the ground, or what the muscles in my legs and arms did when I sped up or slowed down. I took in the nature around me, and appreciated being outdoors, inhaling fresh air (without a mask when allowed), instead of being isolated in my apartment. Running by myself, in increasingly cold temperatures, began to feel more like an experiment, or playtime, instead of a chore to check off the to-do list.
Furthermore, I paid attention to how I felt after I ran. I noticed my difference in mood on days I was active and days I wasn’t. I re-framed my ideas around “self-care;” it was less about bubble baths and indulgent online shopping sprees, and more about the little things I could do to protect and promote my own physical and emotional well-being. For me, going outside for a run has become one of those things.
So I invite you to find your new “why” for 2021. When all of these races, events, and external factors are taken away, why do you run? Maybe your experience is completely different from what I’ve shared. Great! Stay curious, stay patient (it might take a while to figure it out), and don’t judge whatever answer comes up for you. The world will go back to “normal” soon, and we’ll have races and MR bootcamps and other fun events to motivate us again. But until then, enjoy your solo journey. Hope to see you out there.