Focusing on the negative. (Expert level)

The first kilometer of the running route from my house starts on a very semi-steep uphill. Because of this, I usually use the first kilometer to ‘warm up’ and walk. But my running has been getting stronger and one afternoon, I found myself managing to run the entire kilometer without stopping. I was thrilled! When I reached the top at the swimming school, my heart felt like it would jump out of my chest, more from happiness than exertion. I could not stop smiling. My inner voice was saying, “Well done Bron!” Best . Feeling. Ever!

Two minutes later, another runner caught up to me and we started making conversation. We exchanged pleasant neighborhood chatter and discussed some of our road races. A few minutes had passed and I was enjoying running with her when out of the blue, she said, “Well, nice to have met you. Enjoy the rest of your run, I need to get going and run a little faster. I need to get home before the sun sets.” And off she ran…

That’s when all the negative thoughts flooded my head:

Before the sun sets? What the…? Yes, because I’m so slow, right? No one wants to run with you Bron. No one! You’re too slow!

When she was out of sight, I slowed down (even more) and was still grumbling to myself when I suddenly thought back to how my run had started. I had managed to run up to the swimming school without walking. That was a great moment and it was brilliant! So then how the hell did I manage to allow my run to dip into such a negative mood. Why did it become all about my speed? How did I go so quickly from celebrating reaching a goal to focus on one of my biggest running insecurities?

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Lesson learnt: It’s an area I need to work on. Breaking myself down happens so quickly and so easily. It’s destructive. I need to focus on my achievements and stop obsessing on the negative. I’m proud of myself. I ran the first kilometer from home all the way up the hill, to the swimming school, for the first time, without walking. Yeah! That’s what I want to take out of that run. Because that’s what counts!

(Image from Google)

Tackling the ups and the downs

My run today pretty much mirrored the week I had last week. Lots of highs and lows, ups and downs. The difference is that when I run, I clearly have a strategy on how to deal with the up hills and down hills and I know how to listen to my body. I don’t do the same when it comes to work.

I can home 3 out of 5 evenings declaring that I had ‘just had the day outta hell’. I was exhausted. It felt as if all my energy had been drained from my body. It’s not so much work pressures but struggling to cope with office politics that’s getting the better of me. It’s mentally draining.

But then there were moments in my week when things at work were great. Moments when I felt valued, encouraged and hearing news which really lifted my spirits.

I need to approach the highs and lows as I do when I run. Tackling those up hills, my strategy is to slow down to a fast walk, to take in my surroundings and try forgetting about the burn in my legs. The hills do eventually come to an end.LSD 28 April

When I get to the flat sections and down hills, I speed up and just enjoy the wind in my hair as I let go and savor the feeling. The run become easier and I push myself.

I realize that every week will have those moments of stress and happiness. Of joy and pain, the ups and downs. Some days I need to slow down, reflect on what’s causing my stress and ‘ride the storm’. And on the good days, I need to just sit back and enjoy!

Great run today… Looking forward to a great week!

Running, like life, comes with many up hills

A friend asked me the other day what race I would recommend she should attempt to run as her first road race. She made the comment, “I want a nice easy race. No hills, nothing too tough. It must be as flat as possible.”

The ironic thing is that with running, the flat races are sometimes the most boring. They might appear easy but in the long run, they don’t provide much of a challenge. All you’ve got is the road ahead of you where your pace is unlikely to change much and your body is kept at a consistent level of exertion.

You see, the races that come with rolling hills are tough, but when you push yourself up the hills, the joy of reaching the top and the feeling of speeding up and letting yourself go on the downhills is fantastic. The mental negotiation you have between your mind and your body as you fight the urge to stop running and the freedom you feel when you reach the top and cruise downhill is victorius. You learn so much about yourself when you force your body to go beyond its limits and to succeed.

I guess most of us wish for those flat races, those times when everything runs smoothly, calmly and there are no bumps in the road to upset our plans. However, life is never that easy. It’s only by dealing with the up hills and overcoming the stresses of those difficult times in our lives that we learn to appreciate things more and learn more about ourselves.

Today’s rat race, with all its stresses and problems, is not easy, no matter what type of runner (or walker) you are. But often, it’s worth welcoming the up hills in our lives because once we push through, the rewards are worth it.

An engineer tells it like it is, even in running

Running with KK is quite a stressful run. Not only do we not run at the same pace, but I am constantly feeling anxious, which is not how I should feel when I run.

Today I figured out why.

We had set out to run a nice, slow, relaxing Sunday run. KK planned to do 12kms while I settled for the 9km route. As we got to the split where he would run off to do the extended stretch, we stopped to catch our breath and for KK to give me a heads up on the route I was taking as I was not that familiar with it.

He said, “Right, you go up this road and you will encounter two hills. The first one is very steep, then the road dips, then you go up again for the next hill. I’m going straight so that I can get some water at the Caltex garage. I’ll catch up with you. K, go! And remember, two hills. First one up, then a dip, then another hill.” And off he ran.

I must admit… all I heard was hill, then another one. And repeat, one hill, followed by another one. By the time I started to run again, mentally it felt like there was a mountain ahead of me and I dreaded it.

The thing with KK is that as an engineer, it’s all about fact. No beating around the bush. In his mind, he was giving me an exact, detailed description of what lay ahead. He won’t sugar-coat it either. You know exactly what’s ahead of you.

When we did finally meet up again, I told him that perhaps next time he needs to kindly put more emphasis on the down hills ahead and help motivate me more in climbing those hills.

But as I was saying it, I could see the confused look on his face. Nope. He’s an engineer. It’s either black or white and in his mind, it’s the same with running. I guess that’s just how he conquers those up hills too – knowing exactly what’s ahead and planning for it.

I think next time we go for a run, I’m not going to ask what’s ahead. I know he’ll tell me!