I’ve never been an enthusiastic runner. Throughout the years, I’ve given it a go, but looking back, I can see why I got it all wrong and rejected running. I was in a race against myself.
A few years ago, a good friend taught me to run at the pace that works for me, no matter how slow. Prior to that, I’d cramp up and feel like I needed an oxygen mask. My lungs burned. I did not see anything enticing. In fact, it seemed a rather masochistic way of getting in shape. Basically, I didn’t know how to pace myself. Once I figured out that running could happen at any speed as long as I continued to put one foot in front of the other, I did it.
I’m hoping I’ve wised up because it now appears I like running. I’m not sure what happened, but a light bulb has suddenly switched on. Like yoga, running teaches me what my body is capable of achieving. It’s stronger and more able than I imagined.
I’ve created one rule: run as far as I want to run. When I want to walk, I walk. When I’m ready to run again, I run. No more of this “just make it to the tree down the road.” I can walk to that tree if I want to walk to that tree. I do not feel as though I’m letting myself down by choosing to walk. In fact, I would argue that dropping the nagging voice telling me I’m some kind of loser if I don’t reach my goal is the best thing I’ve done for my running. I trust that I will do what makes sense for me. I’m not looking for approval.
There’s another reason I enjoy running : music. Specifically, a song by The Waterboys, “Don’t Bang the Drum”. It is the perfect running song. It’s over six minutes long, builds slowly, which is perfect because I start out walking anyway. As the song inches forward, suddenly drums bang away and I’m ready to tear up the pavement. It’s a primal thing, banging that drum. I cannot walk or run without air drumming to the whole song. If you see me out there waving my hands in the air, now you know.
Here’s the song on YouTube. If you run, you might even want to add it to your playlist.
I love the song’s message. You can apply it to your life however you like. Those lines remind me not to go after everything or to try to control everything, but instead, let things happen. There’s no point in forcing outcomes. You have to let things play out sometimes. Unfold. Otherwise, you’re altering something that might be better left alone. That’s what I get out of it.
What keeps me going during the run? This is where it gets a little odd, but it works for me. I imagine a very dear person is in front of me, laughing, encouraging me, or running beside me. When I combine that with the Waterboys singing, I go into something of a trance and feel like I could run indefinitely. I know it sounds strange, but that’s okay. You’re strange, too. We all are.
I’m just up front about it.