SD 17th June 2016
Running up that hill
Just a few years ago, I started running to keep fit. I now aim to run 3 times a week, possibly 4 if it’s not raining. This is my only exercise and I do it to keep my weight at an acceptable level and a few other simple reasons:
- I like to eat bad things and running offsets that nicely
- I know I wont go to a gym as I find it dull
- I don’t like paying for a gym
- Compared to the gym, there are fewer excuses I can make not to go for a run
- It clears my head after a fun filled day in financial services
I never thought I would say this but… I think I may be addicted to running now. If I don’t take part in a Parkrun on a Saturday morning, I feel guilty (If you don’t know about Parkrun, you should find out more – it’s the most positive inclusive free event on the planet).
Despite a good number of injuries, including a few costly visits to a sports therapist and even an injection into my knee by a nice doctor, I still want to run. I have set myself some goals for the year and I figure that, at my age there’s no time to waste.
The reason for this article however is about something that occurred to me towards the end of the St Albans half marathon last Sunday (12th June).
The half marathon featured 2,463 other crazy people, non-stop rain and a stupidly hilly course. The ascent of 814ft felt painful and most of the way round, all I could think was: “oh not another bloody hill!”. It wasn’t the most pleasant race in my short racing career, but as I struggled up a slope in a pleasant country lane around mile 11, I had this thought:
“If I was out on a training run, I would have given up and started walking. What was making this incredibly tired body go on?”
It helped to take my mind off the incline as I pondered this and while puffing another lung full of Hertfordshire air, I figured it was 3 things:
Firstly, I quickly calculated that I had a chance of achieving a Personal Best, despite the challenging terrain and another 2.1 miles to go. I knew it would be very tight but I wanted that PB.
Secondly, I craved that rush of personal achievement that only comes from beating a young fit guy dressed in a cow onesie.
The third one is the odd one out. Perhaps I didn’t want to look a failure to other people and that was also pushing me on. Despite knowing that worrying about what about people think of you may be damaging, in this specific situation that concern was actually a good motivational tool.
So on reflection, it shows how self-improvement can be contradictory and there’s no single right answer.
Being overly concerned with other people’s views can hold us back. Before we grew up to be cautious, we learnt to walk and talk by making mistake after mistake. Thankfully, we didn’t stop trying due to potential and actual ridicule. But now, many of us won’t try certain things for fear or looking stupid. For example, I should take my guitar and busk in town for the hell of it but the crowd might hate my “singing”
But then we are told that, to help to achieve a goal such as giving up smoking, we should tell people, gain their support and in turn you will not want to fail as you would be letting yourself and them down.
So is my conclusion so far is that fear of failure within yourself is motivational, but so can a fear of criticism from others. But importantly, this needs to be carefully balanced or it can be counterproductive and hold you back. So when I wear that shirt/tie combination that clearly doesn’t work and someone points it out, I’ll see it as motivational support!
This positive thinking self improvement stuff isn’t black and white is it.
[Originally posted on LinkedIn]