I previously discussed my return to running in the post Remember. While it has been a slow process, I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss it here. There is a lot to explore and a lot that has been making more sense to me as I retrace my processes and steps.
I love the opportunity to get out in nature and allow it to inundate all of my senses. The feeling of air, sunshine, rain on my skin. The smell of the earth and vegetation around me. The sights and sounds of the plants and animals. The freshness of the air that I breathe. It feels nourishing and healing. The increase in heart rate and breathing brings nature down into the very deepest parts of me. It moves the energy that has been stuck for so long. It allows emotions to loosen and come up for processing in the light of day. It has been such a gift to rediscover all of this.
Something that comes up for me are the feelings associated with moving my body. There is strength. There is joy. There is calm. There is fatigue. There is nostalgia. All pretty common things for an experience like this. What I need to look at a little more deeply are the feelings like shame, embarrassment, over-exposure, frustration, fear, and sadness. Where are these emotions coming from? What are they trying to guide my awareness towards? What reactions might they be prompting?
When I feel into some of these more shadowy emotions; especially the shame, embarrassment, over-exposure, and frustration; I notice that they come from my judgements of my body in this moment. I used to run a lot. It was my life. I led clinics and was involved in a community that brought running to so many other people. Now look at me. My body takes up more space. My muscles have become maladapted to running. My running is not with the ease it used to be. These reactions cause me to judge myself and my experience quite harshly.
“I hope I don’t see anybody I know.”
“This outfit looks horrible on me. Everybody is going to laugh.”
“People are going to feel sorry for me, mock me, or be disgusted by me.”
“This is hard for me and everybody can tell.”
“Listen to how loudly I’m breathing.”
I have been caught up in judgement of myself and expecting my reality to support my verdicts. The reality has been quite different, if I’m being honest. I have seen nobody I know. My outfit doesn’t look any worse than anybody else of my size and shape out there and nobody has laughed. Nobody has actually said anything to me except “hello” or “passing on your left.” There is actually no evidence of anybody thinking about me at all.
I’m comparing myself to who I was 5 or 6 years ago when I should be comparing myself to who I was 7 years ago. When I had just started. When I was feeling weak and self-conscious. When I had no background of running and was looking for a quick and dirty way to survive a race that I was on a family team for. When I compare myself to that more similar version of myself I see that I have years of experience with physical and mental discomfort. I have the capacity to realize that most people out on the trail are worried about themselves more than they are worried about anybody else. I realize that I get to run for myself. I get to run for the joy that I receive from being out in nature. I don’t have to run so that I can do something for someone else. This is for me. I have changed so much in the last 7 years and I am so grateful for my prior running experience for my current perspective.
Still, I feel a bit of fear and sadness. It is mixed in with nostalgia because 5-6 years ago was a pretty awesome time. I loved the community of people around me. I loved sharing the joy of running with other people. I loved the experiences of running and training for long races. I loved how good my body felt… until it didn’t. Here is the space where my fear comes in. All kinds of fear. Fear that I will let things get out of control again. Fear that I will allow my goals to become manipulated by other people again. Fear that I will get injured and not be able to participate in this experience again. Fear that I will allow the idea of the ideal body image to dictate how I nourish my body again. Fear that I will fail and have to leave the sport again. Fear that I will literally destroy myself. Some big stuff here. Scary if you just glance at it and don’t linger for a few moments. These feelings of fear are asking me to keep my experience intuitively aligned. Aligned goals, aligned training, aligned nutrition, aligned grounding in myself, aligned rest, and aligned perspective. I know what’s best for me and I am strong enough to stand up for it. Sadness is calling me to comfort myself as I remember my prior experience and learn from it. It was big and it was important and I want to honour the time I spent and the lessons I learned through it all. All of the emotions belong. None of this is for no reason.
It’s a fascinating thing. Something as simple as getting some exercise can bring up some pretty complex emotional responses. We are told constantly that we need to move our bodies in order to be healthy- could you imagine what this would be like for someone who has a completely unexplored inner world? It could be quite jarring and confusing without any obvious hints as to why. It could absolutely cause people to avoid exercise- it is not comfortable and can just be plain scary. This reunion with running is a call to be in deeper relationship with myself. It is a call to explore myself thoroughly and get honest with what my motivations and deterrents are for engaging with life.