I think it is important to try to end the year on a high, and so with this in mind I set out for a final run in Wicksteed Park this morning. It is unseasonably warm here in Northamptonshire at present, even though we have been under a blanket of grey sky for a good few days now. I would normally be setting out with as many layers of clothing as a lasagne has pasta sheets (this simile might need a bit of work), so it was a treat to be running light.
It felt good to be running again, albeit at a slow pace over a short distance (a couple of miles in total). I am trying to rebuild my stamina, but that really needs sustained effort and regular practice, both of which have been sadly lacking over the past 12 months. It really has been a fallow year, and not just in terms of running.
So, my running for the past 12 months. A total of 21 outdoor runs covering 49.6 miles (less than 2 marathons distance-wise!) and 2 treadmill sessions totalling 4 miles. “Psychologist on the Run”? I am reminded of the quote by Dolly Parton. She said people called her a dumb blonde, to which she replied “I am not dumb. And I am not blonde.” I am no longer a psychologist, having fully retired this year. And I’m more on the sofa than on the run.
I am sure I am not alone in struggling with motivation over the past few months. It has been difficult to find the enthusiasm to engage in the activities that I normally enjoy. I know that running is good for me physically and psychologically – the act of running itself, the fresh air, and the sense of having achieved something, of having at least made the effort even if no PBs have been recorded – so why would I choose not to do it?
We are experts in finding reasons not to do the things we should. We end up denying ourselves the opportunity to feel good about something, allowing ourselves to get caught up in a vicious circle of non-activity and non-reward. There has to come a point when we make a decision to change. It needs a shift in our thinking and a change in behaviour. Often it is difficult to find a trigger for such change. It might be something someone says, or something we read, or stepping on the scales, or the sudden realisation that we cannot continue in this way, that we deserve better for ourselves. But a word of caution – make small changes, give them time to consolidate, then add another small change and so forth. Just like we sometimes forget to run a bit slower at times, so we set ourselves unrealistic behavioural change targets.
Actually, I had a bit of a thought as I set out on my run this morning. My joints felt stiff, my limbs were heavy, yet I was setting off at a pace that was too optimistic. We can get caught in a running double-bind:
Wanting to run fast but unable to. Needing to run slow but resenting it.
I think this might be a good place to end the post and the year.
I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year for 2022.
Please continue to run free, safe and happy. And what better time to get that motivational mojo back than at New Year?!