There will be days when all I really want to do is run. But I don’t.
I want to go train at 5.30 AM. But i don’t.
I sometimes drag myself out of bed, get dressed and get ready for the run, only to climb back in bed and ditch the training altogether. How can someone resist something that actually holds the key to their happiness?
And at night as I lay in bed, I think back and wonder about the reason, questioning whether I am lazy or still depressed and anxious. And I do not find an answer. For all I hear are voices of other people asking: so why didn’t you do it? Or imagine meeting my teammates, and getting bombarded by all sorts of questions. And that thought makes me even more anxious.
I even found a way to make running, my getaway, stressful for me. I started stressing about my time and my pace. I started to stress myself out and eventually I stopped running. Because every time I do think of going out, I know that I would be slow. Instead of focusing on the joy running brings me, I started focusing on how bummed out I would feel when i look down at my Garmin and see a time I do not like. So I get demotivated, and I ditch the run altogether. The anxiety this gave me affected most of the other aspects of my life.
I am not inadequate. I know that. I do know my potential.
I know that if I train, I can shave off at least 30 minutes off of my marathon time. I know i am happiest when i run, after i run. During, i might be suffering, but i know my mind clears after i do it. and the runner’s high is real. it’s a different kind of happiness that not so many people understand.
I look at all my happy and excited teammates, and i know that we are so different. I can’t be like that. How can they be this happy? How can they not be struggling as well? I completely do not get it. I look at them and feel angry and kind of isolated wondering what they might be thinking of this girl who skips most training and sometimes barely shows up. Way to make myself feel even worse.
And I reached the peak now. The peak of having exercise, my getaway, as something that is so far from me. I did beat myself up over it for a while, but then decided that instead, I am going to accept that this is just a phase. I have been living abroad for a few months, dealing with work, being alone and A LOT of thinking of the future. I deserve a break.
Last sunday was the race for which I was supposed to have been training for since two months. But I did not train. Even in Lebanon, i ran only once in a month. But I went to the race anyway. A good friend, Leila, signed me up and I think that’s good. I decided to leave my Garmin at home. I decided I’m going to go run without thinking of my time. Even if it takes me 40 minutes (for the first time ever, a 5K did take me 40 minutes). I will not stress myself over this. I am going to go do what I love most. I’m going to run.
And i did run. And I also walked. I have never been this unfit in my life. But when i crossed the finish line, I was satisfied. I went and I did my best. I ran because I love to run. I am still not over this rut, and I am trying not to stress myself or pressure myself to do something I am not yet ready to do. I started running as a way to face my fear, and ended up meeting so many amazing and inspiring beings, and falling in love with this minimal yet hardcore sport.
Two years ago I ran the Beirut marathon. I ran it with dedication and yet it did not fully exclude some setbacks but I did it. Training was never more satisfying and I was never happier or more fit than that phase in my life. And yet not many understand what people battling a mental illness go through just to get themselves out of bed in the morning. So one can imagine what a huge achievement finishing a marathon could mean to me.
I was lucky to have a great running buddy who helped me push through it, and a great coach that helped us cross the finish line. The running community is one of the best there is and I feel lucky to be part of it.
And it is not over. This is a phase that I will take in, give myself as much time as I need, and I am coming back stronger and I am going to kick some serious ass. There’s a big plan for this in my future, and I’m getting there. One setback at a time, I’m rushing through them coming at me in the opposite direction, and I will continue straight to the finish line.
So instead of thinking about how bad I might be feeling at the moment, I will focus on how good running makes me feel. While training I will leave my watch at home, and just do what I can at the moment, without any self-judgement. I am doing this for me, and not for anyone else, which is why no matter what anyone’s opinion is of my regressed performance, it will not matter.
And I will end with one of the quotes I listen to while running (Yes, I listen to motivational men shouting in my ear while on the run, that’s what keeps me going):
“And every time you fail it’s painful. it causes sadness… and disappointment. I’ve often said a man’s character is not judged after he celebrates a victory but by what he does when his back is against the wall. So no matter how great the setback or how severe the failure, you never give up. You never give up. You pick yourself up. You brush yourself off. You push forward. You move on. You adapt. You overcome.”
and it is only a matter of time.