And it makes perfect sense…
I believe change can happen collectively through one simple thing – becoming comfortable talking about issues that really matter. What truly holds us back in life are the beliefs we hold true about ourselves (and running) and what mainstream media hammers down based on a marketing strategy. I’d like to focus on the former. Shifting perception from within that closely effects your life and life choices.
WHY DOES IT SUCK?
Because most advice is based on a concept and not on the individual and actions within. Giving universal advice for a bunch of highly complex individuals is nearly impossible – one size doesn’t fit all. Let’s put running in a box, isolate it nicely from life. Let’s craft these perfect runners and athletes. Picture perfect actually. Those who sleep plenty, eat well. Take a lot of joy out of foam rolling. Never get injured. Have endless youth, power and ability on their side. Come with a clean canvas and state of the art kit. And are emotionally also quite dead inside. Sounds appealing? Sounds realistic?
FACILITATION – what do we need?
Tell me where to find a carefully crafted space where a sense of belonging and openness exists? Where we can all be very proud of where we come from? Where we celebrate personal achievements with compassion and not just waxing some lyrics, because we are all amazing? All the time. Where someone holds you accountable so you don’t fall off the motivation wagon or run into too much trouble (injury and addiction)? And that there’s a lot more to us than PBs, the flag we wave, the colour of our skin and the language we speak. Or age. Show me your colourful canvas.
HUMAN INTERACTIONS – where to go?
Some communities work better than others. Naturally we gravitate towards what fits our bill. People like people like them. What sets our souls on fire, what keeps us engaged. What gives us a sense of belonging. Many talk about vulnerability and soft skills yet no one really wants to go there. Why? Because it makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable. And we seem to unlearn to be honest with ourselves.
HOLD ON – are we talking about the same type of ‘personal best’?
Seriously, did half of the (fitness) population go comatose and nobody told me about it? Ok, I was away for a bit. To the contraire belief I have ‘left’, I took time out of a schedule that was killing me, to become a better runner, ergo person. Which meant finding some balance again, defining my personal best in life. Paying more attention to life’s demands outside of my control, that needed to come first for a while.
But why have those carefully fostered conversations (THE community) shifted to all time PBs, chasing race after race within a blink, recently started running but hey, let’s try an ultra!? What’s next? What’s next? Ah the injury bench. And depression. And losing the lust for life. Because defining oneself through running that has gone wrong is much harder than defining oneself through what matters the most – your personality.
YOUR PERSONAL BEST STARTS WITH YOUR PERSONAL WORST
(Sharing is caring) After having spent most of the past five years to create, facilitate and foster I seem to have created a pattern to repeatedly push myself to crossroads, higher and more demanding places. Barely taking a break from running or life. I’ve found out some shocking truths about myself, mainly the things I kept chasing that weren’t mine to chase. So shocking they’ve kept me immobile. To move beyond and shift that mindset. I’ve distracted myself by lifting others and soldiered on with a heavy heart and a confused mind. Lacking the much needed support from the closest. But maybe because it takes a lot for me to complain about hardship before not having exhausted every possible avenue there is to explore.
I’ve buried myself in work. Somehow made a career on the other side of running and managed to stay clear of too much trouble. But the same behavioural patterns kept showing up with making little to no sense. They’ve started to interfere with the things I did for fun (like running). One of those cross roads saw me quitting my job, working for myself (same industry) but expanding life by bolting on a triathlon coaching qualification and a MA in matters of the mind and the heart (something like Psychology and personal development). To fall back on creativity and combining all of those and turn it into a legacy project. Well you don’t strive out to create a legacy project. You find a purpose and with people liking people like them, things fall into place and start becoming something much larger in life. Much more important than oneself.
Running was my lifeline. And I’ve challenged many to honestly tell me why they run. After overcoming some b*llshit answers and digging towards the core – the majority runs to cope with life and not waste away. I could probably find more eloquent reasons and super inspirational stuff. But it’s the bad and the ugly we need to tackle for the magic to appear.
My running has been a bit off in places over summer because life has gone full tilt. Despite the greatest efforts to focus on the goal that matters to me, life somehow always has other plans. The turned-upside-down-one isn’t the one I particularly seek but self inflicted change and some unforeseen outcomes were all of a sudden there to be dealt with. Sod running. Sod UTMB. I can’t fathom sometimes where we draw strength from. This was about survival. So no one is to blame and there is no one else to turn it all around again but myself. That place of power.
I still have standing power after losing a family member this summer, another one now terminally ill, breaking with a relationship that stopped pulling the magic out of me, putting everything on the line, the fear of losing it all, forever believing in the truth will never die and surely everyone, really everyone will come around after some time. The only reason I'm still standing is because I've opened up honestly and could fall back on some very incredible human beings, who arrested my fall and kept the pieces together. With running as a lifeline, running through it all. As mindfully as possible. And sometimes you need to stop and preserve some of that energy for life.
I wanted to talk about the running problems we all go through but never feel comfortable talking about. Those are the issues that matter. It’s important to give those issues a place to speak and live. Running will always be there. And with some running luck we get a chance to navigate life more or less gracefully until we can shine again.
There comes time for change. Always.