Since I was 11 years old, I've run. In that sense, running is all I've ever known. Take that away and who am I?Recently, I haven't been running as much as I use to. Everyone assumed I was injured and well, I was for a couple of months. From the beginning of 2016, I had been trying to rid of shin splints. Shortly after though, it wasn't a physical injury that was blocking my path. It was a mental block. It's not because I wasn't working hard enough, or because I couldn't be bothered anymore. I've never truly believed in myself enough, but I'd continue to work hard and try to get better with every step. I am not a gifted and talented runner.
I do, however, have a vision and I feel immense frustration when I'm not able to make my vision materialise. It was this seed of frustration that led my motivation levels to spiral downhill. Have you ever tried to walk up an escalator the wrong way, and ended up getting nowhere? That's exactly how I felt about running. It becomes demoralising when you believe you're doing everything possible to move forward, but you're not! When you're working your ass off, and for what? It's like I'd plateaued. I understand that for any athlete, you're always going to experience a 'bad phase' within your sport, this may be through injury or hitting a mental block. After one and half years of seeing zero improvements, coupled with an injury, it was mentally taxing.
Running, I'd say, has kept me very grounded. I would, without thinking, sacrifice parties and many social events to train or race. I ate a healthy, balanced diet on a day-to-day basis. I would plan my day around running. It ruled my life, but that's the life I chose. It was rewarding. It was my muse. To suddenly feel like this was changing, I didn't know what to do with myself. It didn't matter if I was injured or not, the passion I once had for running seemed like it was fading into the distance. Rather than going for a run because I wanted to, I felt like I had to go. I was forcing myself out the door, rather than going for the love and joy of a run. It didn't feel like it was a choice anymore. I'd beat myself up if I didn't go for a run. I'd feel even worse if I went for a run. I'd be lucky to make it over a mile before breaking down and walking home. It had become that bad! I honestly wish I didn't deal with it in the way that I did. I was dealing with anxiety and mild depression at the time which didn't help, but running is supposed to be a stress-relief. It's supposed to release endorphins. Why then was it not working for me?Looking back, I regret walking away. At the same time though, it was a blessing in disguise. If I wanted to find my feet again, I had to give up running. Rather than bury my head in the sand, I had to lay everything in bare in front of me and pick out all of my flaws. I was restless, bored and frustrated.
There needed to be some changes, some differentiation, and more importantly some evolution. At the time, I hated the idea. Only now do I realise that my decision was the right decision! For me, I had to focus on myself and my health. I had become so obsessed with running that I began neglecting everything else. Taking running out of the equation, I realised there was a lot more to life than going for a run. I learnt the importance of 'balance.’ I needed to learn to relax. I had to learn to treat myself. If I wanted to eat that slice of cake, then I could. I needed to stop depriving myself. Taking time out has meant that I've let my hair down more. This 'time out' was something that was overdue. There are so many times where we forget about life's little pleasures. It's a challenge to let ourselves slow down. Most of us do have time in our days that we could devote to simple relaxation, but we convince ourselves that we don't. It seems there is always something that needs doing, always someone who needs our attention. Many of us feel compelled to measure our success in terms of acquisition and accomplishment. If we are always focused on external stimulation, we miss opportunities for inner growth and renewal.
I'll always wish I didn't run away from running, but in hindsight, I needed to! It's realising that sometimes, there's more to life and when one door closes, another door opens. I know I will return to running and when I do, it won't be because I have to, but it'll be because I want to!
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