I have a nemesis. Running. As long as I can remember, I haven’t been able to do it. Even at school. 75m sprint? No problem. 100m sprint? Just about. 200m? Erm….. nope. Not really.
Don’t get me wrong. I can walk for as long as you like. I have walked four ‘Full Moon Moonwalks’ – a 26.2 mile full marathon in aid of Walk the Walk, a charity supporting all things to do with breast cancer. The twist in a Moonwalk compared to a ‘normal’ marathon? It starts at midnight, you are not allowed to run, and you (have to) walk in a decorated bra. I had signed up for my first one three weeks before I got my own breast cancer diagnosis, so couldn’t walk that year, but I walked my first Full Moon less than a year after finishing chemo. The last one I walked in 6 hours 18 minutes. But still, in my head it ‘doesn’t count’, because I didn’t run it. Why is that? Why do I give myself less – or no! – credit for walking that distance in quite a fast time, just because I didn’t run it – and wasn’t even allowed to run it?!…
The reason I am writing tonight however, was triggered by something very specific. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I would give the ‘Couch to 5k’ app another go – an app which helps you learn to run 5k – step by step. I have done it twice before, and just about managed to get to the last week, but I found it so, so hard, and my times weren’t great. Like not at all. Like mostly I walk faster. (How is that even possible?!…)
So this time I decided I would repeat each run – or each week – until I either found it easy/easier or got much quicker, and then move up to the next challenge once I’d mastered to previous one. So here I am, right at the start – again – doing a 5 minute warm up walk, followed by 1 minute ‘running’ (light jog), then 90 seconds of a brisk walk, repeat 7 times, 5 minute cool down, Bob’s your uncle, right? Wrong. I struggle. A lot. But I am doing it. And I am so proud of myself for being so determined and for constantly challenging myself to do the things that I find the very hardest. And I don’t mean I try and torture myself with things I am not good at or don’t want to do (although, to be honest, sometimes it feels a bit like that), but I genuinely really love the idea of being able to run. I just can’t do it – YET.
So here I am, having repeated the same run four times so far, and, no surprise, finding it hard, and not being very fast.
My (step) daughter however is a great runner. She did yet another half marathon today. At dinner, my husband tells me she had messaged him and said she’d finished in 1 hour 35 minutes – not her personal best, but she turned up (her words). Instantly the voices in MY head started: ‘How far would you get in 1 hr 35 minutes?’ Voice starts laughing at me. Then, with some menace: ‘Not very far. Not very far at all. Why do you even bother? And have you seen what you look like when you try and run? All puffed up and horrible… And if you haven’t managed to run by now, you never will. You LOSER. Hahahahahaha!!!!!’ Thanks.
I drop my head, then decide to try and counter. ‘Does it matter?’, I tell myself. ‘At least I am trying! And I am not doing it to run a marathon, I am doing it to get fitter and healthier. And every time I do it, I do more than if I didn’t do it. And I am doing my best. And I am so proud of myself for not giving up.’ But it is not sinking in. My nice voice isn’t loud enough. Nasty voice is still going. I switch to thinking: ‘Hm. Interesting. I wonder why this is triggering me so much. I need to think about this.’ And my head goes silent(-ish) for a bit. Quiet toing and froing… Loser, proud, loser, proud, loser, proud, repeat.
Then said daughter comes home. I ask her how she got on. She says: ‘Not very well’. Oh. ‘Not very well? How come?’, I ask. She explains that half way through, her feet went numb, and that they were hurting at the same time. She told me how she sat on a wall and cried, and how she had wanted to give up. ‘And did you?’, I ask, already sure of her answer. ‘No’, she says. I walk over and high-five her. ‘That’s my girl! You wanted to give up, but you didn’t. I am so proud of you.’ ‘Thanks’, she says quietly, head down.
‘Do you know what it is?’, I say, having returned to the dishes. ‘I am more proud of you for wanting to give up and NOT giving up than I would’ve been if you’d ran your best race ever.’ And instantly it hits me, and I well up with emotion. Because instantly I know it is true. ‘I am more proud of you for not giving up…’
And this time I hear it. I feel it. Not just for her, but also for me.
And the nasty voice doesn’t stand a chance any more. At least not for now. Because, do you know what? I am so proud of myself for not giving up. But it took me speaking to someone else, to get me – my body – to hear it… Crazy.
We all need to start being our best friend. We all need to start encouraging and praising our inner child. Because, do you know what?!… We so totally rock.
Me in 2013 at the 26 mile post.