running: to escape your problems, or to find inner peace?

My last post was all about perception, and how it colours everything. I got another very real and impactful reminder of that today.

To say it’s been a rough week or so would be an understatement.

I won’t bore you with the details; suffice to say that I’m well past the point of waiting for “the other shoe to drop”. It’s raining shoes. And I’m kind of over it. Enough already.

Enough with the shitty stuff. How about some good news for a change. Yes, that would be quite refreshing.

I spent a few hours on my laptop, dealing with what I could, but not really in a position to impact the situation(s) that are stressing me out. So my inner voice said, “Go workout. You’ll feel better afterwards.”

Of course I was going to workout. Not working out each day is not an option. But it was a question of what I was going to do today. I considered driving to the gym, maybe taking a class, or just hitting the machines.

But everything inside me was screaming for the mountains. I would have given my left arm (no, not literally) to be able to go for a good hike today. I knew that if I had a mountain, my stress would melt away by the time I hit the summit. Sadly, mountains are pretty hard to come by in the greater Toronto area.

Just as I was settling in and enjoying a big bowl of self-pity, another voice piped up and told me, “Go for a run.”

Now normally the other (louder) voice inside my head would immediately remind me, “You hate running. Don’t do that. It will put you in an even worse mood than you are already in.”

And that voice would be very convincing because, let’s face it, I don’t love running.

And it’s really f’ing hard.

And life has already been pretty f’ing hard this week without adding more hardship to it.

When I think about me + running, this is the image that pops to mind:

578088_220191681438775_1978966061_nPatsy and Edina, huffing and puffing, griping and moaning.

This picture is a perfect graphic depiction of what I feel I most likely emit, facially and attitudinally, when I run.

Still, something told me that I probably should just lace up my running shoes and get outside to the waterfront trail, steps from my front door. True, it’s not a mountain, but the lake is beautiful, and calming. And running might actually help me escape the million thoughts rattling around in my head. And, if you have to run, at least run somewhere pretty, not on a treadmill, staring at a TV screen.

So I headed out.


I headed down to the waterfront, hit the trail and gave myself a 10 minute walking warm up. And then I started running. And at first it sucked. It sucked really bad.

At that point, in respect of the full suckage of that early run, I decided to do a 2 minute run / 1 minute walk interval pace until my body could get caught up with my mind’s intent. [My body is sometimes slow on the uptake…]

After a few of those intervals, I shifted to a straight run, vowing not to look at my watch until I felt I couldn’t go on any further.

Instead I focused my gaze on Lake Ontario. It was so still today. The water looked like glass in some spots. It really was quite hypnotic. Its vastness serving as a good reminder that my ‘big problems’ really aren’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

At the end of the day, nothing is every really as bad (or as good) as it seems.

And I’m just a wee, tiny [blonde] speck in relation to this great big, complex universe.

My problems are real, but they’re also not the end of the world.

This, too, shall pass.

I zoned back to the present for a moment, mostly because my right hip flexor was tweaking. Not sure how to describe it better than ‘tweaking’. Kind of like a clicking. Sort of painful, but mostly uncomfortable and worrisome. [I am most worried about succumbing to a bad injury that would derail ‘my year of sweat’. I will protect against that at all costs…]

So I glanced at my watch. 20 minutes had passed.

20 minutes of running hard, outside, on a paved surface, with hills that felt like crazy inclines. I did that. I ran that.

Quick check-in on my physical state:

  • My breathing was nice and calm. In through the nose, out through the mouth [versus all mouth breathing/gasping, which is normally my running form];
  • My heart rate was moderate [shocking to me because on the treadmill after 20 minutes, it’s in a pretty crazy high zone]

Okay, so all good, right? Well, no. There’s that pesky hip thing. My inner voice told me to take a break. I walked for the next 5 minutes, and then settled back into my interval pace the rest of the way home — 45 minutes (30 minutes running, 15 minutes walking).

As I ran up my driveway it occurred to me that my mind was clear and [virtually] carefree for the first time in several days. I decided to test the theory by forcing myself to pause and think about all that crap that’s been weighing on me and stressing me out.

Yes, it’s all still right there, and most of it is still clearly beyond my control. The funny thing is though, none of it seemed quite as overwhelming or scary at that moment.

941475_579474498741463_932977962_nSo I guess the picture above is right. I was able to release a lot more than just sweat during today’s run.

What a magical way for me to discover how perspective really does change everything. I’m so, so grateful for that.

Get moving!

xoxo nancy

2 thoughts on “running: to escape your problems, or to find inner peace?

  1. I had a day like that yesterday, I had a lot of stress and negativity going on inside me and I ran and I came home a new person afterwards. I hope that whatever you’re going through passes quickly. Great work on doing something healthy to overcome the stress. 🙂

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