I’m well into my run. Everything feels okay, I’m tired, but my thoughts instigate. “You should be running faster. Don’t stop. Push harder.”
So I respond. I go faster. Picking up the pace to get through it. My thoughts run even more rampant. “Geez. You are tired. How pathetic.” What’s wrong with me?
This was my training style for so long. I had zero forgiveness towards myself. I thought that it was a good thing to harbor such energy and to be in negative states of mind. After all, I was raised on the fact that it’s just always going to be hard, so I might as well get used to it, and rise above. That worked well for many years until eventually fatigue over-burdened me.
First it was burn out. I went from a college athlete to nothing. It was such a relief to be done with the sport after so long, but I was done with it long before I quit. I think I was just hanging on to keep friends. In the process, I developed no desire to get back to exercising until years later.
Second it was injury. My mentality about a workout never changed from when I was in college. It was all-or-nothing. Because of that I ignored signs of an aging body that just wasn’t recovering as quickly. I thought it was just me being weak and needing to get stronger. Not true.
Third it was lost hope. I didn’t know what to do after trying almost anything to “get ahead” of the burnout from exercise and injuries from over-training. Nothing that used to work worked anymore. Inspiration lacked. There was one catch though. I never lost the burning desire to achieve. It just lacked vision.
I needed to apply myself in different ways. How did it happen. Surrender. I spoke back to those punishing thoughts. “I can’t keep up with this.” It was a genuine plea. One that only I could voice. For years I had try to disguise a deep un-satisfaction with my ways. “Why can’t this just be easy?”
So I stopped and listened. Lo and Behold, my thoughts settled down. “Wow, I got too caught up in that. How did that happen?” Answers started to fill my mind. Mainly, what came to vision, is that I was happy to find that what I was doing to make me happy wasn’t in fact, making me happy.
I had been caught up in the notion for so long that I was ‘behind’ for so long, that I had been convinced that the only way to keep up in life was with fight-or-flight mode. An extreme measure of survival based on fear. Although the thing about fear is that there is no Joy when we are under chronic states, yet Joy and happiness is what I am always pursuing.
Now I’ve learned to stop and pause whenever I notice the accelerating thoughts present themselves. A metaphorical ‘Stop and smell the roses.’ In doing so, it keeps me in a steady state of mind. I don’t lose the vision that I have.
We do not have to speed through life to keep up with everything. It is all happening on its own anyways. When we are settled is when our circumstances settle as well. Stay at a pace that suits you well. One that fits your abilities and brings you steadiness in your lifestyle. In doing so, we find more moments of space for ourselves.
Trey Tompkins is a local resident who writes fitness columns for the Record-Herald.