Running has been difficult lately. We’ve been busy with back to school and birthday craziness (second rainbow cake finished and halfway consumed). And it’s been hot. I have a lot of very good, logical reasons why I haven’t been great about putting on my shoes and heading outside for an hour.
But the truth is that I just don’t want to. I don’t feel like it. I would rather sleep for an hour, or read a book, or do an extra load of laundry, or answer emails, or, or, or. I keep waiting for that hunger, that moment of desire to run.
I’m waiting to want to. A concept that I talk about all the time with clients and in DBT skills group. Motivation for self care is often at it’s lowest when we’re stressed and tired. Vegging out on the couch feels like self care when you’re tired. And it certainly is, but it’s not super effective self care. It’s not present and connected self care. Clients always respond with some version of what I wrote a paragraph ago – “I’m just overwhelmed right now and I’ll get back to exercise when…”
I compare self care to taking your medication. It’s a thing you may not want to do every day (or even any day) but you need to do it regularly and as a priority because otherwise the systems just don’t work as well as they should. I’m less irritable and jittery on the days when I run. I feel less run down by mid afternoon on the days that I run.
Even on the days when I have a really bad run. The days when the walk breaks are frequent and feel imperative even when you know it’s not your body or legs that needs a break, it’s your mind. I’ve come to realize what a mind game running actually can be. It’s overcoming the urge to just stop. For me, who is not a natural runner, it requires pretty constant self check in and mindfulness to be sure each walk break is needed for my physical rest not just a mental fatigue.
SO, when I run I do practice one-mindfulness by focusing on what’s happening around me, changing my routes and focusing on small goals. These are all helpful skills for regular life as an anxious person, it’s what my running medicine gives me on the days when I get out there.
And so, I’m going to run today. I don’t really want to (though I do more as I write this), but I know that I need to.