I’ve never been one for inspirational signs or walls decals. My preference has always been for quirky, visual arts that I know aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. When I moved into my own place I was determined to decorate like the grown up I keep trying to convince myself I have become. A few weeks ago my dad and I went to Target to try to find some of this grown-up art and he found a sign that read Do What Makes You Happy. It’s a gorgeous sign with soft colors, but I immediately dismissed it on principle.
“You’re always talking about doing what makes you happy and being happy and all that,” he said.
Every runner has a mantra. A phrase that they repeat over and over to themselves when their bodies and minds are about to give up and start slowing down. It’s a way to fight through the pain and dig down deep to find that motivation to finish. I often found myself repeating This sucks. My back hurts. I hate this. When is this over?
I started running as a way to kick a plateau in my weight loss. By signing up for a Half Marathon with friends I was tied to a training schedule and a level of accountability I couldn’t get from just going out on my own. Plus, my friends were experienced runners with half and full marathons under their flip belts. They were wonderful and provided the motivation and guidance that I needed to do the damn thing. During training I didn’t really lose any weight, but I was hungry all the time and figured that since I was burning so many calories I could eat so many donuts. It doesn’t work like that. Math.
This sucks. My back hurts. I hate this. When is this over?
Well, now. It could’ve been over at any point. I could just stop running and not do it anymore. What is wrong with me!?
All that time that I spent running I could’ve spent on any other physical activity that was much more enjoyable. I would’ve been far happier had I danced my way along the same route down the Charles River, but for some reason I was running.
I give all the credit in the world to people that love it and reach that “runner’s high.” I never got there, but I’ve also never seen the dinosaurs in the Magic Eye books.
Back at Target I picked up another sign that read The Joy is in the Journey.
The Joy is in the Journey. Oh my god, is it? I ran a 5K this weekend in beautiful Portland, Maine. The weekend itself was awesome. Touring breweries and eating ice cream is my ideal vacation. Throw in spending time with a great friend and reuniting with another I hadn’t seen in fifteen years and it’s beyond wonderful. Oh right, why are we in Maine again?
I was supposed to be running the Half Marathon and not the 5K, but I’ve been sidelined with some super fun injuries and a giant desire to do anything but run. More than a few medical professionals told me that probably just shouldn’t run anymore because my back can’t take it. I am a dachshund.
“But what about this half marathon I’m signed up for?”
“Yeah, you probably shouldn’t do it,” said a doctor, chiropractor and three physical therapists (who then all walked in to a bar and shenanigans happened.)
The run itself was garbage. Literally. I started to slow down on the second mile because my lack of giving a shit about running started to creep up, but so did the smell of it…IS THAT A SEWAGE PLANT? Due to the humidity I could actually taste the entire city of Portland’s crap. New mantra: Remember that time you smelled an entire city’s voided bowels while running? Bring yourself back there. The only way to escape it is to cross the finish line.
Surprisingly more disconcerting is that I stopped at mile two to walk because I just couldn’t run anymore. At the moment I started to slow down I realized that not only would I not break the personal record I set at my last 5K, but I was on track to have my worst performance ever. That only made me want to run less. Thank goodness for the sewage plant?
It seems true for every runner that once you set your pace, you zone in on someone that you either want to keep pace with and then ultimately do better than. I had found my target in Hot Pink Tank Top (my race nicknames are not creative) and she had found hers in me. When I caught up to her for the fifth time, I saw her look over at me out of the corner of my eye and take off again. I must’ve sighed or given some sign that I was pissed because she turned and waved me to keep up with her. We kept pace for a while until she slowed down and I turned around and did the same thing. We crossed the finish line together and high fived. It was really a beautiful moment. I wish you had been there.
My time was just over 34 minutes. Not my worst, not my best. I was so convinced that I was going to do my Worst Performance Ever that I let that consume me and mentally had my Worst Performance Ever. I didn’t enjoy running along the ocean. I ignored the cowbells and adoring fans. I was the worst version of myself for 34 minutes and it sucked.
There was no joy in the journey.
I get so caught up in fitblogs and #transformationtuesdays that I think I am always focusing on what can give me the best bang for my cardio buck. It’s my own fault for looking at all those side by side views of people that have undergone drastic physiological changes by making seemingly small changes to their diet and routine. I’m also guilty of sharing this about myself. It doesn’t seem to do anyone any favors. Everyone’s journey is different because we are all snowflakes. You can only find the joy if you’re focused on yourself.
It almost feels like we’re all in competition with each other even though we believe to be doing it for ourselves. Offering up a level of support based on our experiences can only serve to inspire and motivate! No longer do I buy into this. Especially when the experience being shared is some side view of a booty. That just makes me want to sit on mine more.
Anyway, the point of this whole thing is that I hate running so I’m not going to do it anymore.
Both of those signs hang in my home now. I never thought I would see the day that my walls would be adorned with phrases, but they serve as an important reminder. Just get out there, do what makes you happy and find the joy in it. Do it for yourself and don’t get caught up in the end result of whatever your goal might be.