IT'S MY THERAPY
It's not that I don't believe in traditional therapy. Or journaling. Or even meditation. But for me personally, I need that kind of mental release on a daily basis. And the best way I know how to do this is to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement. Obviously blogging about my runs and/or personal development from time to time serves a therapeutic purpose too. However, there is nothing quite like the feeling of the wind blowing through your hair as you pound down the same familiar streets each day.
Which, is why it is all too easy to make excuses for why I can't run less than 7 miles when I run outside. Or for why I feel its necessary to run outside in any and all weather conditions. Rain, thunder, lightening, and icy sidewalks included. Extreme heat and extreme cold...bring it. I can deal with all of it, if it means I get to go the distance. Which, I guess might make running both an addiction and a therapy. But, there's already been a post on here (from waaaaaay back) looking at it from an addiction perspective.
So, in that case, I think it might be helpful to look at in from a therapeutic perspective. If you are an avid runner like myself, this will totally make sense. And if you absolutely despise running and/or would NEVER every choose to voluntarily go out running, at least this post will help you understand the why behind why so many people have caught the running bug and fallen in love with the sport.
Back to making excuses, guess who totally did not take Wednesday and Thursday to run shorter distance?! Yeah, for the first 4 days of this week I have been alternating between running 7 and 9 miles. And yesterday's 9 miler was absolutely brutal. Even with my chocolate GU energy gel, I was still very much struggling for the last 3 miles...just wondering when this "session" was going to be over with. Usually, putting in the work is fun (or at least bearable) but not on this particular day.
So, naturally the minute I completed that horrific run I vowed to hold myself to 6 miles today (Friday). And this was no small feat. It was very taxing both mentally/physically to actually enjoy this mornings run knowing that I had to stop at 6 miles. Like, sure my body was (and is) super sore/run down/probably over trained...but that doesn't mean that I can suddenly convince it (or my mind) that running such a "short" distance is normal or acceptable. Because, with where I'm at currently, it's not.
Runner or not, you probably read that last section and were like WHAT?! In what universe is 6 miles considered a short distance? Also, how is putting your body through so much pain, for such long stretches of time really that therapeutic? Well, let me break it down for you.
Since I basically have a regular running route that I do 6 times a week (with a few minor alterations based on distance/how I'm feeling that day), I have the luxury of making the conscious decision on whether or not I want to zone out during the run. Just run on auto pilot so to speak. Running for the sake of simply getting outside and getting active. I also have the choice to deal with anything and everything that has been on my mind recently. Fails from past runs, body image issues, to what life post weight loss is really like.
This is why I have zero issue with running the same streets, the same route, day after day. It never gets old for me, because every run is so different from the one before it. Plus, this way I know *usually* exactly when I'm going to struggle and want to quit. And I can do my best to prevent those feelings by either pretending to be running with my best friend, pulling out every single positive mantra known to man, or just singing along with whatever song happens to be playing on my Ipod.
For me, running anywhere from 7-9+ miles give me ample time to both zone out/clear my mind and also take the time to tackle whatever has been bugging me lately. During my recent runs, the focus has mainly been on not letting my times define me, and dealing with ongoing confidence issues. With issues as serious as these, there just simply isn't time to delve in that deep on a mere 6 mile run. So, you end up racking up a total of 32 miles over the course of 4 days.
And your body hates you for it. I mean, like really, REALLY hates you for it. Because, you can't use the therapy or even addiction excuse to absolutely trash your body one run at a time. That's clearly not sustainable in the long term. Even if running super long (with ocassionally decent times) makes you feel good enough. Confident even. Like you can do literally anything in the world if you put your mind to it.
So, naturally you take a step back and analyze why. Why you feel like you NEED to run x amount of miles. What does it really prove, that you're a good runner?! That you're strong enough to handle the mileage? These are all thing that I already know to be true. I've literally ran 50 miles over the course of 1 week (December 2017) and then felt like absolute garbage for like 1.5-2 week afterwards. But, man those first several hours after I realized I had actually managed to tackle that distance in that amount of time, I was on cloud nine.
Right now, I think it's part half marathon part confidence that has fueled this weeks mileage. I am of course far more excited than nervous about tackling 13.1 miles in September. But, there is a part of me that is scared. That feels like there is an absolute need to get all the miles in I can between now and then. And not just any miles, but good quality, decently paced miles. Which of course blurs into confidence, both as a runner and a person in general.
I'm not the most confident in my abilities as a runner, but, I do believe in myself to a certain extent. Otherwise, there is no way I would have signed up and put $30 on the line to test my abilities in a half marathon. So, the more miles I run (as long as there not too "slow") the more my confidence grows as a runner. The less I care about what other people think as they see me trudging along, clearly not having the time of my life.
This is completely opposite of how I am in most other aspects of my life. If it doesn't have too do with running/lifting...then clearly I'm at a disadvantage. I cannot tell you how many times I've thought to myself how, if given the choice, between running a marathon (all expenses paid, but clearly not trained for it) or going on another first date..the marathon would win hands down. Even though 10 miles is the farthest I've ever run and I would most likely have to go to another state to do it.
Running makes sense to me. You put on foot in front of the other, move your arms forwards and backwards at 90 degree angels, and you do it all with good posture. There are actual mechanics behind it. Science. There is essentially a right (efficient) way to run and a wrong (inefficient) way to run. Anything having to do with socializing is the polar opposite of running. There are no rules. You can't really compare one experience with another. There is no script or training plan.
Through running, I have finally (after what feels like forever) gotten to a point where I have a healthy relationship with food, and no longer obsessive over the scale. Running has given me an outlet, a way to cope when I'm overwhelmed or scared. Running will be the one thing (I believe) that helps me to overcome my confidence issues. To finally believe that my loose skin and stretch marks don't define me. That I am so much more that just "the girl who lost weight."