A letter to… me, the runner

Hello,

I’ve not written a letter to anyone for a little while. I think actually ME was the last person at the beginning of the year… my my how this year has changed and not been what you were expecting at all. A lot has changed, but one of the biggest changes in your own life is running (among a whole load of teaching related things and life/world things). As I sit here and write this, I’ve just come back from a VERY HOT 1pm run. It was slow and clunky and hot. Today’s been a frustrated kind of day: I’ve not wanted to do anything, but I’ve not wanted to do nothing (I know, it’s a stupid juxtaposition of emotions, but that’s where we are). I needed to run because I needed to do something to get rid of that frustration. But anyway… we divulge from the point.

At the beginning of the year, I never would’ve seen becoming a runner as a thing we are, but we very much are now a runner. Whether it will last forever, or for a short amount of time doesn’t really matter, right now that’s what we are. Remember that. It’s something to be very proud of. We’ve only been running for what 5 months maximum now and we’ve achieved so much. Graduated from Couch to 5k, ran a load of 5ks, ran a 10k and you still CHOOSE to go out running 3-4 times a week – that’s a massive thing and it’s something you SHOULD be allowed to be proud of. You need to remember that’s a thing to be proud of. Not everyone can say that about themselves. Yes, it took a world pandemic to kick you to do it, but you did it. 

It’s still not easy (I don’t know that it will ever be) and it’s still something that intimidates us… I think that’s normal. 6 months ago, running was something for the super fit and the super skinny… now running is something for you. Runs will be easy and runs will be hard and runs will be somewhere in between. That’s OK. You’re allowed to go through ALL of those feelings in running because it’s YOUR journey. It doesn’t matter that other people run faster, further and for longer than you. You’re running what you can. That’s all that matters. I know you get hung up on the pace you’re running sometimes and the fact that other people can run further, but those people have probably been running a lot longer than you. You need to remember that. You’ve been running 5 months. You’re not going to be an expert. I know you want to be able to just do it seamlessly without having to go through the rigmarole of the hard work and everything in the middle, but unfortunately, that’s life. We’re perfectionists. We just want to get it right straight away. Running isn’t one of those things you can just get right. It’s one of those things you work on forever. 

That voice in your head? That saboteur in your head that tells you to stop? That stupid niggle that tells you you can’t do it? We need to continue to work on ignoring it. She’s a stupid voice and she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but she’s there to challenge you, to prove you wrong. If you’ve gotta walk in the middle of a run, that really doesn’t matter. That’s just part of the journey you’re on now and that’s perfectly alrite. Remember when you first started running and you couldn’t run for a minute? Remember that first week of Couch to 5k? It KILLED you. Now, you can run for a long time and it not kill you. Be proud of that and remember how far you’ve come. I know you’re not a proud person, but you’re allowed to take a bit of pride in this achievement because even if you down play it… it’s a big thing! 

Running is one of those strange things that’s HORRIBLE at the time (your legs hurt, your lungs aren’t very happy, it’s sweaty), but when you find yourself in the ‘zone’ it’s absolutely brilliant. Running seems like it’s doable and it’s easy. You need to remember those times. It’s also brilliant for your brain – you might do a lot of thinking some runs and you do no thinking other runs. But you ALWAYS feel better after a run (yes you’re always tired, but that’s cause your body is just repairing itself and needs some down time to do that!) and as much as you’re not doing it to lose weight, apparently you look different? I don’t see it. I feel just a round as before I started running, but that’s not the point. Weight is a whole other ball game, not one to go into right now. If it helps you lose weight or tone up? Mint, but that’s not what we’re doing this for.

So here’s a few things to remember:

  • enjoy running – this matters the most… as soon as you start hating it, you’ll stop doing it;
  • stop beating yourself up about slow runs – it doesn’t matter at the end of the day;
  • don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s – you’re on a whole other chapter of your running journey to other people, so celebrate their journey and let them celebrate yours!
  • be proud of what you’re doing REGARDLESS of how far, how often, how hard and how fast it is – if you’re choosing to run, you’re choosing to do something for you and you’re choosing to do something that’s good for you.

That’s it for now. I hope whenever you’re reading this, you’re still running and you’re still finding as much joy in it as I do sitting here writing (especially on those stupidly frustrated days).

S x

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