I have a KEY learning experience to share, it's messy, it's honest and it's a game changer!
Much of my work is around understanding thought processes and managing emotions. I am continuously doing the work myself each time I try new things and get outside my comfort zone.
7 weeks ago, I took up the Couch to 5K. I have never run in my life….my identity was very much that of a NON runner. The closest I came to running was watching other people at the school fun runs, without the slightest inclination to join in!
I was recently inspired by one of my fabulous clients who had a go at the Couch to 5k but hated it :D I still decided to give it a go as it could be for me and during lockdown this was something I could do on my own, early in the morning and didn’t cost anything.
So I downloaded the app and felt very grateful such a thing existed to help someone like me. I chose Sarah Millican as the voice of encouragement. I thought she might make me laugh……unfortunately I did NOT laugh during these runs!
I found the first run/walk combination a struggle! To any runners out there, this would be a piece of cake, but to me….well I would rather eat cake. This is a very honest account so I don’t mind telling you that running for 60 seconds was more than enough!
I kept at it and by the week 5, I was running for up to 5 or 8 minutes. This felt like a very big deal to me!
So let me now take you to Week 5 and the day of Run 3. After an unsettled hayfever fuelled night, I drag myself out of bed, choosing to make a healthy choice and do the run as I was in this for the long haul #warriormindset
Imagine my SHOCK when I clocked on to do this run and saw the numbers…..20!!!!
Yes that’s right, 20 whole minutes of running non-stop……I had to check this was correct, surely there was some mistake?! How could I go from 8 minutes to 20?!
I said TWENTY……!!! I kept looking at the numbers in disbelief..but they didn't change!
So.....off I went and decided to pay attention to my thoughts and my body (which is something I practice and help clients with in other areas of life like healing, business and relationships). Now I was going to use this same practice with the running.
Isn't it interesting (I say that a lot!) that I had a significant physical and mental reaction to seeing what is essentially some numbers, lines on a screen.....the number 2 and 0…..20!
I could relate that to other situations like when we look at our bank balance or bills or age etc…..all just numbers, just lines! But of course, it’s our interpretation of them, the meaning we attach to these numbers that causes us pain. In my case, I felt this would be physical pain!
Now, I consider myself to be a highly positive person with great determination BUT when I really tune in to these thoughts in this new experience of running, I still have old limiting patterns to be mindful of!
Here's what I noticed.....and it's essential to really notice the reality of the current thoughts before glossing over them, in order to make real change. It was fascinating to witness this thought process, objectively with no judgement in all it’s messy and honest glory!
So, I am not holding back here, this is the torrent of crap and insight that I observed……….
“I have never run this much before so how on earth can I manage to do it today?!
I struggled with 8 minutes so how will I cope with 20?!
I am not sure I am cut out for this, I wonder if I should be doing it?! I always said I wasn’t a runner!
How will I feel if I can’t do it?! Not sure I want to handle the disappointment, I was doing so well!
Why have they made it this hard!?! #blamegame
How will I feel if I have to stop part way because I am too tired? This is why I don’t run, I am not a runner.
This is exhausting. I can’t do this.
Just seen another woman running up the street and making this look (insert expletive of choice) easy but that’s not the truth!!!
Wait til I get home (if I actually ‘expletive’ make it!) and I will tell Dave how exhausting and difficult this was." (Really Amanda?! He probably wants to hear that less than you do right now and what do you want….sympathy? Why do you want to repeat the same story?! Get a grip)!
I allowed those thoughts to pass through and then I tuned into my body, although I could ‘feel’ the challenge this run presented physically, my body was actually coping (just)!
It was my brain and monkey mind that brought up all the fear based, negative, limiting thoughts. I realised that and I realised it as it was happening which is the beauty of conscious attention and being able to observe your own thought process.
So…..I changed the game by changing the thoughts and said things that just came to me, like:
“I choose to love and support myself in this moment.
I choose self-compassion.
You know you will finish this run even though you think you can’t, because that’s who you are.
You can do this.
You are doing this.
Think how good you will feel (after you have resuscitated yourself!) for doing this.”
The lovely Sarah Millican’s voice intercepts my banging dance tunes with news that I am halfway through……..which alerts my chimp brain….!
“(insert blasphemous expletive of your choice) only halfway through!!!!!! I am dying already!”
I mean “Yes, I am halfway through, look at what I have already achieved, I can do this.” #better
I am grateful for my body. #yes
I am grateful for improving my fitness levels #health
I am grateful that I am not a quitter #goodreminder
I know each time I do this, I will improve #longgame
I can run for way more than 60 seconds now #massiveimprovement
I really quite like you Amanda Green. 😉 #feelsgood
It’s hot today already #observation
Will my legs work after this? #genuine
I will not spit in public.” #random
I saw Dave going for his run as I approached the home stretch, but I couldn’t shout at him or get his attention, because with two minutes to go and feeling an imminent collapse coming on, I had no additional energy to exert any amount of sound from my mouth to attract his attention…. other than a desperate gasp!
I made it, 20 minutes done and an invaluable reminder of the power of the mind.
So, what happened after that? Well, I chose to change the game with my thoughts from the beginning of every run.
I say “ I am strong, I am powerful, I run with ease, I can do this.”
And now, it’s week 7 and I am running for 25 minutes non-stop with ease!!!!!
BOOM SHAKALAK BABY!
I feel so proud and empowered. I may be sweating buckets with a face like a beetroot but…..I am a runner. I changed my mind, I changed the energy and I changed the game.
I still have a way to go but I am enjoying the journey.
You can too, in any area of your life, I know it!
Believe, Amanda G