How I doubled my running distances without taking a step
We’ve all heard the old adage ‘mind over body’ but it wasn’t until one day when the true meaning of this began to shape my life forever. Over coming one simple challenge enabled me to see that anything was possible in my life. About 6 months ago I was living in Peckham and working in the city. It’s about 5.5 miles to work and on occasion I would run in. At the time this was right on my limit of a comfortable running distance. So if I was going to attempt it, I’d be sure to give my stuff to my housemate George so I’d have no extra weight to carry.
One day I woke up to find my bike had a puncture, George had already left the house and I basically refuse to take public transport… 🙂 I was left with only one option… to run. I stuffed my hershel backpack (not exactly prime running gear) with clothes, books and my laptop. It was heavy. Not sure if I would be able to make it or not, I set off. Immediately, I understood this was going to be a challenge. My backpack was grating against my back. I felt tired and agitated. And I hadn’t done this before so I had a lot of self doubt. ‘Can I really make it?’
Telling myself that I only really needed to make it to half way (to London Bridge tube) I trudged on! The 2.5 miles to London Bridge were awful. My thoughts were running wild; ‘This is so hard’, ‘My back hurts’, ‘I’m tired’, ‘I’m never going to make it’. Then, running through London Bridge I had an epiphany.
What was making this hard was me! The only blocker to making it was my mind.
How many times have you been running and stopped because your legs simply wouldn’t take one step in front of the other? It’s never happened to me and it certainly wasn’t going to be the first time on this short run into the city. Suddenly, I got that my mind was the only blocker. Telling myself I was tired or it was hard was like putting invisible barriers in front of me the entire time. Barriers that I had to keep breaking through just to make the next step and the one after that. And with that realisation, something else was possible. I refused to block myself any more. I started to remove the barriers I was creating. Suddenly, running wasn’t hard at all but easy. I passed the tube and powered on.
2 minutes later, running across Tower Bridge, I got a stitch. Now, I’ve never run through a stitch before. This time it was different. The conversation in my head went something like this. ‘Wow, a stitch, really? It’s just crazy how much I want to block myself. Well, I’m not listening any more’. 2 minutes later the stitch had passed and I sailed on into work. Ignoring my tiredness, ignoring the next stitch that came 10 minutes later and ignoring the backpack grating on my back allowed me not just to complete my run, but to really enjoy it.
For the past 6 months I have been practising this technique over and over. Removing the invisible barriers stopping me from running faster and further. Two weekends ago I was came back from 2 sets down to win 4 consecutive sets against someone fitter and more talented than me on a squash court. Last weekend I set off for a casual run and ended up running 12 miles! Simply because I was enjoying myself so much.
What I’ve got is that so much more is possible in life if I can get past my mind. It’s very rare that I am physically incapable of doing something. My mind always quits or deflects before my body does. This plays out everywhere. Running, making friends, applying to the job I love, writing this blog post. My mind so often gets in the way before I get the chance to take the actions. Imagine what would be possible for you if you thought everything was easy, you decided what you wanted, and you took the actions.
I’m pretty sure it’s not your body stopping you running that marathon or applying for that new job, it’s your mind.