Once upon a time, I decided that I wanted to be a runner. Well, not like an Olympic runner. My sights were set considerably lower than that. I just wanted to find a way of getting and staying fit that didn’t involve going to the gym. Or playing some kind of team sport that needed me to be in a particular place at a particular time each week.
Basically I had some fitness activity criteria I needed to check off and running seemed to fit the bill:
- no expensive equipment requirements
- no need to go to a specific geographic location
- no reliance on other people to do the same thing at the same time
- just a matter of stepping outside of my house with a pair of trainers on, pretty much.
So I gave it a shot. Only to discover that I absolutely hated it. I didn’t like the way I felt while I was doing it – overheated, unfit and bored. And I certainly didn’t enjoy the way I felt afterwards – overheated, knackered, and in varying degrees of pain.
So that was the end of my short-lived running career.
At least, it was 5 years ago.
Fast-forward to the present day, and I’ve just finished my first 5k run.
The answer: I’m not entirely sure.
I made some decisions along the way that helped a bit though I think. I talked in a previous post about how I decided to start dressing as though I was going to do some exercise, in the hope that it would grease the wheels a bit and help said exercise to actually take place. That seemed to help quite a lot actually. As a result, one day back in December 2015, I decided to go out for a run.
And discovered that I didn’t hate it.
I had a kind of epiphany.
I found out that what was happening inside of my head while I was running was incredibly similar to another activity that I had started, more or less in parallel with dressing for exercise; Mindfulness Meditation.
I enjoyed meditating, finding the experience somewhere between relaxing and disciplined. And since it seemed to me that the way I felt while running and practicing some of the mindfulness techniques I had learned in my meditations at the same time made me feel pretty good – I carried on doing it.
Every 2-3 days ever since that first day, when I went for my first run and had my epiphany.
Although I hadn’t connected the two activities in any way whatsoever – as soon as I started running that first time, it was immediately evident to me that practicing mindfulness meditation was helping me to focus my mind and tune out the resistance, noise and boredom while I was actually doing the running. Mindfulness meditation, used alongside a £3 coaching app to help me build up the running habit (and muscles!) has now taken me all the way from 0k approximately 2months ago – to 5k as of today.
I think that’s pretty cool. So I hope you don’t mind my sharing it. Not as an endorsement of running, meditation, mindfulness or cheap coaching apps. Simply in celebration of an important milestone. The end of a journey along which I’ve grown in fitness, determination and focus.
And the beginning of a new one. Since now I’ve achieved my 5k goal… Where do I go next?
Answers on a postcard (or in the comments) please. In the meantime, I’m off for a curry to celebrate! 🙂