I would tell you that I am not a runner.
As I was running, just this morning, I was thinking, “If I had a dollar for every time I started running again…” This was after a delicious long morning of drinking coffee, reading, waiting for things outside to get a little warmer, and generally doing every damn thing I could to put it off.
I started not running more than 25 years ago. I certainly don’t run year round; I have had plenty of injuries and a couple of babies. As someone who doesn’t run, I have completed a smattering of half-marathons, countless 5Ks and yes, one terrible, terrible full marathon. Let’s just say I have started running again many times.
I know how great I feel after a run, even though I am not a runner. I know all the reasons why I should run. So why is breaking the seal so hard and what can we do to get over the hump and just do it?
If you’re like me and looking for ways to get back in the saddle, so to speak, here are a few of my thoughts on beginning again:
Recruit an accountability partner.
Hell yes, it’s easier not to do it—especially when nobody knows I was even thinking of doing it. I find that having someone to check in with and track me and my progress does wonders to push me out the door. When I speak (or write) my goals to another person, I feel a greater obligation to walk my talk. Serving that role for someone or a group of someones also gives me a little extra skip in my step and motivation to get moving. A running partner is a wonderful gift, but virtual check-ins work, too.
Get real and present.
I can get stuck on silly details like my pace from last year or even last week. I try to keep in mind that none of that is important. Focusing on where I am today, on this run, is the only thing that matters. Setting goals is great, but let’s make them about the action and detach from the outcome. Eternal beginners know that starting over means being humbled again and again.
Adopt an attitude of practice.
The mind can sometimes tell us stories about doing things to perfection. I can get caught thinking I should be running better/faster/harder/longer than I am. Please don’t worry—I am working on this. Adopting an attitude of practice is one way I work with those stories. I remember that whatever I am doing, I am only practicing and suddenly the pressure to perform is off, and I am lighter, more playful, curious, and having much more fun.
Connect the dots.
I can get so pumped after a run—even a slow one miler. By taking a moment to acknowledge to myself and out loud to anyone who happens to be around that, “I am happy, and I feel really good,” I strengthen that neural pathway. It’s like creating a little trail in my brain that helps me make meaning of my experience. I make a connection between a feeling that I really like and an activity that I sometimes say I do not like or even really do.
“How you do anything, is how you do everything.” ~ T. Harv Ecker
Whatever you do—whether it’s running, sitting in meditation, getting on your mat, writing, cooking, parenting, partnering, or simply being human— you can start right where you are—over and over again.
When it comes right down to it, every day is our chance to begin again. Community that asks us to show up, cultivating mindful awareness and loving-kindness toward ourselves and having a healthy detachment from fantasies and discursive thinking, can help us take that first step, one more time.
Author: Leah Gartner
Image: Author’s Own, Unsplash/Marcelo Matarazzo
Editor: Travis May
Copy & Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina