A personal memoir about running.
I have decided to write a memoir styled article on my running journey, answering questions that I regularly get asked, and talking about my overall experiences which date back to my first runs in 2019. I must fully disclose that I have had no professional running training, rather, I have read and researched widely, but this article will mainly be drawn from my own experiences. I’m not writing this as a “how to” guide, more so a reflection piece, and a motivational memoir. This piece was started in late 2020/ early 2021, one that I left and never came back too, but I have decided to finish and publish it as motivation for myself to start running again.
When I imagined a runner, I would never picture myself (I’d picture Forrest Gump) . When I began to run, I was motivated by weight loss, and it was because of this that my running never progressed over the first year. Week in and out I would beat myself up mentally, my pace was slow, my stride was sloppy, and I would still rest and walk. I wasn’t looking any different, and I couldn’t even see results in my fitness. I fought with myself. I changed up my food, I would only have smoothies for breakfast, and salads for lunch. I wasn’t giving myself enough fuel to keep up with the running I was doing. The stigma that surrounded running stopped me from believing in myself as a runner.
Getting past the stigma.
I run by myself, always have. So getting the motivation to wake up early and run a distance wasn’t very likely when I first started out. I eventually concluded that running was as much about mindset as it was fitness, and its this piece of advice I give anyone that asks me about running. But to get to this point, took a lot of rough running.
Fitness to me was something that I associated with hockey, and something that would build after consecutive games and training sessions. I would run to get myself ‘hockey fit’. I never would have thought that I would quit hockey to pursue running. My mindset whilst running was to get faster, and walk less. I didn’t start with a strategy, I didn’t start with any other goal rather than to be ‘hockey fit.’ This mindset wasn’t toxic, but it didn’t allow me to grow either. Which is why I never saw any improvement, making the toxicity grow. Of course I would also run just to be able to tell people that, “Oh yeah, I just went for a casual run this morning.” But after a while the 4km run just wasn’t impressive anymore, “You still only doing 4km?”, “Yeah.” I would never extend the run, because I felt I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t a runner yet. I built mental barriers that I couldn’t see which led to a pattern of resting at the same points and running at the same slow speed. The improvement never came so I just stopped running. No improvement? Well why am I still doing it?
I started running off and on again, like a trend. Was running trendy today, would it make a good Snapchat post? I never posted about my pace or the distance because I was ashamed. I told people that I was a runner, but I never truly believed myself. And I’m not saying that my mindset was sad or unhappy, I want to disclose that I was very happy, but I had a toxic running mindset. I broke this mindset at the start of 2020 in our first COVID lockdown.
I extended my 4km loop to 5km spontaneously one day. And I completed it. This was the start of my shift in mindset, I went from being angry at my pace to being supportive, coaching myself. It was over the lock-down period that I started a training program to run a 5km run with a pace of 6:00/km. Which in laminae terms is running a kilometre in 6 minutes for 5kms which equates to exactly 30 minutes. I got faster, but I never completed the goal over the summer. I finished my training and was still clocking in 33-minute runs. But I grew in that experience, my perspective on running had been changed. Which then inspired the training behind running 10km.
Fun fact; I never got my to 5km goal until I peaked in my 10km training.
What keeps you going?
A question I get asked a lot is what keeps me running, how do I run the distance? I completed my first 10km run in May and that changed my running game. It showed me that I could run double digits. The migration from 4km to 10km was a 2 year process of constant develop. I can run further because of the realisation and belief that I put in myself to run. All my eggs went into the running basket in 2020 as I decided to have the season off from hockey. I was no longer running to get hockey fit, I was running to run.
I keep going by setting new goals, if that meant running a different route, main road running or running further, I set them to complete. I can say that I have almost completed every running goal that I have set (I let the cheeky half marathon goal get away from me, but its a work in progress). When I started out I kept to the back streets, off the grid kinda’ stuff. Now I gain a high from running on the main streets. I ran the Tongarra Road strip in late January. That was the highest bar I had set for myself, as it meant that I had to stop at traffic lights and run alongside cars (proper main road running). I ran this road when I ran my longest run, it was the runners high from knocking off another goal that kept me going for 17 kilometres.
But motivation doesn’t just come from roads, or routes. I find it in the crevices of life. If the girls and I were going out to San Churro that night I would smash out a 10km run, it was a reward. Most days I will run without much motivation, because I truly do love the rush of power I feel when my feet slap the pavement. But some days I force myself to run by updating my social media. If I post that I am going to run an 8km run, well I am going to do it. Other days motivation didn’t come, and that could last a week to a fortnight, I wouldn’t run. But it wasn’t unhealthy either. I found that a break in between long stints would create a hunger to get back out and run again.
I wrote this in January at the beginning of this year, and never published it. I re read it now and realise that I probably should have posted it, because the writing is directly from my heart. It has been edited now, with my current perspective (which is a runners slump). I haven’t ran like that in a 3 to 4 months. Running for me turned into a chore, and a painful way to let out everything I couldn’t say in words. I killed running for myself by forcing a 10km run three to four times a week. I lost my drive, and I forgot how to get that high. Running for me now brings up disappointment. I was so close to charging down the half-marathon goal, but I never got there.
I know how to do it now, and I know where I went wrong. To people that run, keep going, to people that don’t run, don’t feel like you have to, but apply these mindsets to each aspect of life. Running helped me to understand that the mental barriers we build will always stop the physical goal. I never ran my half marathon because of the mental barriers that I set, but every cloud has a silver lining, and I have bought a ticket to be participating in the Shellharbour Half Marathon on the 5th of December. My training officially starts in August, but for July I am going on smaller jogs at slower paces to find the thrill of running again. I keep my Instagram updated with my runs and pace if you are interested in following my journey in re-discover my runners mindset.
Mindset is the key to anything. (but also, a cheeky playlist does give a good motivational kick up the a** too.)
I’m eager to here what you thought of this post, did it motivate you to run, walk, hit the gym, bake, get out of bed? I’ll do another one on running after I start training again, on the journey back to running.