This week the two people I spend most of my free time with left the island we live on for a spell of time back in Europe. Not one to sit around and feel sorry for myself, I decided to utilise all this extra free time and seize the opportunity to dust off my running shoes and re-kindle one of my greatest passions.
I fell in love with running 8 years ago when I, a then heavy smoker and regular drinker, was coaxed into running a 5k race for charity. “We can walk it!” my friend assured me as I pensively puffed on my cigarette. I suppose it can’t do any harm, I said and with that I agreed to let her sign me up.
Come race day, I had resigned myself to walking the 5 kilometres around one of London’s Royal parks but instead something unexpected happened, a spark was ignited in me and while my friend walked, I jogged and panted my way through my first ever post-highschool race and thus began what will undoubtedly be a life-long love affair with running.
I live in a pretty active fishing village, it’s a pretty sight, loads of boats equipped with the best portable fish finder sailing out to sea in the morning with fathers and sons happy to be on their mission. This week I set myself the goal to run from my house to a sign on the road, that says ‘Bon Voyage’ positioned at the edges of the fishing village that I live in, and back again. I calculated that the run would take me at least 50 minutes if not longer, but I haven’t run for more than 40 minutes in the last 4 years due to a knee injury that I incurred while training for the 2010 Brighton Marathon. ‘I’ll work my way up to it’ I told myself and with that I set out on Monday evening with no intention of getting to the sign but with a goal of running for at least 40 minutes.
I achieved that goal as I also did on Tuesday, inching ever closer to the sign. The problem with this sign is that it comes after two, not particularly steep, but nonetheless gruelling, hills. On Wednesday I had got within one hill of the sign when my body screamed at me to stop, I was about to turn back as I had done every other day but instead, I decided to do something else. I stopped running and I started to walk towards the sign. I decided that day that reaching the sign was more helpful to me than turning back and saving that glorious moment of achievement for another day in the future.
I realised that reaching the sign and running back home would do something to my mind, which in turn would do something to my body. I figured that if my mind knew what it felt like to achieve the goal of reaching the sign, then my body would follow suit and running to that point would feel easier the next day and everyday after that. This way of thinking sort of challenges the view that ‘it’s not the destination that counts, it’s the journey’ but in this context I’m okay with that.
For me, this week it felt important to stop worrying about how to reach my goal and start showing my mind and body how it would feel to achieve it. I still haven’t managed to run all the way to the sign and back but I feel a damn sight closer than I did at the start of this week, plus I feel a small sense of triumph every time I get to the sign because walking up that hill still takes a lot of effort!
What I’ve realised this week is that whilst it is definitely important to enjoy the journey without becoming overly obsessed with the destination, it is also okay to reach the destination by changing the way you travel. If getting there the way you originally planned is taking too long or feels too difficult then give yourself permission to change things up!
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