One of the biggest challenges I have decided to tackle in my 30's is running. I have completed one 5K, and will do my second this Saturday. For the past 3 months I have been running when I can, mostly to make sure that I can complete the races I sign up for. Today, I had an appointment at the end of the day which was very close to the trail I like to run on, so I decided it was a good time to make that last run before the race this Saturday. I felt the same about it as I feel every time I am going to go for a run (not a race, just a run on my own)-nervous, worried, butterflies in my stomach, running through the mental checklist of all the things I need....proper clothes, inhaler, headphones, playlist....and on and on.
Today, as I usually do, I picked the route I would take; I mentally made note of what I was up to completing. There is no rhyme or reason to this decision, I just make a judgement of myself for the day, and then stick to it. I am serious about not giving up during these runs, no walking, no stopping. And for some reason, I decided all I had in me tonight was the short loop on the trail instead of the full run. So I started my run tonight in this most typical fashion. And had the most fantastic insight.
As I began my run, I began to feel gratitude for the chance to take time for just me in my day. I realized that I had given myself the permission to spend 45 minutes with myself. And as much as I enjoy my work and personal relationships, this 45 minute run was only about me. It sounds simple, but was profound on that trail. I felt so grateful that I had given this to myself. And as it goes when you are in your head, I began to think if this was related to why I feel so nervous before I run, and why I would make a decision about my distance tonight before even feeling what the run would be like. That's when I realized that I often don't give to myself what I take pride in giving to others: non-judgmental kindness. I judge myself, expect perfection from myself. I reserve this only for me. In my work and personal relationships I encourage others to learn from mistakes, take healthy risks, put themselves out there. To be kind to themselves, be non-judgmental. But when it comes to me, I chose to take the short loop on the trail so I don't risk judging myself if I have to walk 10 steps to catch my breath. I am not forgiving or kind.
So tonight, as I approached the distance I predetermined in my head, I consciously decided to be kind to myself. I decided to take a healthy risk. I decided to take the long loop on the trail, to walk if I needed to, and most importantly, to not judge myself for doing so if needed. When I got to a small bridge that overlooked the water, I stopped and looked for a minute. It skewed my run time, but did wonders for my peace of mind as water always does. I ran the long loop, and then went farther. I had the best run I have ever had. I didn't want to stop, and had what must be that elusive thing called "runners high" for a good 2 hours after. By making the decision to be kind to myself, I cleared out all those nerves about meeting this expectation that no one but me knew about. I don't think I'll ever be nervous before a run again, only grateful and accepting of myself even if I have to walk. I have chosen to be kind to me, as I am with others.