What’s your reason?

You know you’re a runner when you listen to podcasts and read loads of articles about running. Earlier this week, whilst on my dreary commute to work, I listened to a couple of podcasts by Comrades Coach Lindsey Parrie. You know you’re a South African runner when you know who he is!

The podcasts were about final preparation for the Soweto Marathon. One of the tips that stuck out for me wasn’t about physical preparation at all, but mental preparation. He spoke about getting to a point in a marathon, somewhere around 35 k’s, where you have to rely on your mental strength to push through. He suggested that for this point, that you need to have absolute clarity about why you are doing this crazy running thing and further, you have some sort of tangible, visible reminder of that reason. He suggested a card with the reason written on it, or something written on your arm… something that symbolises your reason for running.

If you want to listen to the podcasts, they’re available here.

So I’m not doing a full marathon, nor am I likely to ever try, but I know from my one little half marathon experience that at around 17/18 k’s, I hit a similar wall where I was so tired and emotional and just wanted it to all be over. I thought that Coach Parrie’s tip would be a useful one to employ for my next big race.

Last night, after our training session, I heard a story from one of the members who is a cancer survivor and is building up her fitness from scratch as she waits anxiously for her one year remission results. She was visibly emotional as she told us about how a year ago, she didn’t know if she would be here today, and what a miracle it is to be around, walking and how we need to just make the most of each day. I got a bit teary, listening to her. I was inspired and so immensely grateful for my health!

I started walking because it seemed like a the right thing to do for my health. “They” say getting exercise is important and the structured RWFL sessions seemed like a good place to start. My reasons are different now.

You know that slow kid at school athletics days who comes last in all the races? The one who never chosen for the team. I was that kid! I stopped doing sporty stuff as soon as I could in high school and opted instead for drama, debating and public speaking. I didn’t suck as much when standing in front of a room full of people as I did on a sports field, so the nerdier cultural stuff was the safer option. As I grew up, I added “fat girl” to the “slow kid” label. Years of overeating, wrong eating, and emotional eating helped the kilograms pile on.

22 months back, when I joined RWFL, at my heaviest weight ever, I identified as slow and fat! It has been months of consistent run/walking and real efforts at improving my eating and my relationship with food and I can finally see visible progress. On a gentle (read not uphill) stretch of road, I can now run a kilometre or more in a go. I have lost a few dress sizes but mostly I’ve discovered that there is joy in pushing my physical and mental boundaries.

I run because I didn’t think I could.

I run to say I can run.

Oh and I run because it  gives me something to write about and I really like writing!

What is your reason?

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