So I've been feeling off, and unable to follow through with the things I want to do lately, and I've been looking for a reason and a way to get back to following my own rules and doing the things that make me happy again, and it's been really hard.
And the one thing that has been feeling like the cornerstone of all this has been my problem with running. I was in week nine of a “Couch to 10k”-program, and I just couldn't make myself run for as long as I should have. I tried skipping back to week seven so that the running intervals were shorter and easier but then I'd still think, “This is too hard, I cant do this, I don't want to do this, if I go on like this I'll keel over!” all the time, and I would stumble through the first few run intervals, and stop running thirty seconds before the end of the interval, and then at about the halfway mark I would decide that I just couldn't, or that I really had to walk to search for a new podcast episode on my cell phone, or that it was just way too hot, and then I'd walk more and more, and in the end I'd limp home and feel defeated.
And it was the same in almost every part of my life. I'd skip piano practice, I didn't even attempt to play guitar or ukulele, I'd shrug my shoulders and tell myself I could always revise my novel a bit longer the next day, and I'd go back and eat another bar of chocolate, or have another beer even though I usually don't drink during the week.
And I was feeling lousy. Still am, by the way, it's not as if I have triumphantly pulled through or anything.
And every day I would decide that this would be the day I'd turn things around, and I'd just go back to following my rules and living my life as I want, and then I'd shrug my shoulders again and tell myself, “But it's too hard! I can't!” Which is complete bullshit of course because I already did live like that and it was not too hard. It wasn't easy but it made me happy.
There was all this talk in my head. The “but I'm so tired”-argument, and the “but it's all too much”-one, and the “making an exception once won't be a problem”-one (that one's my favorite; gets me every time, and is never true).
And I knew that it was all bullshit, and I knew that I was in the process of making myself unhappy, and I still didn't want to stop. Of course it felt like I couldn't stop but at the same time I knew that was a lie. It still feels like I couldn't.
All of this was rather exhausting and ridiculous. I was starting to lose patience with myself. Being a whiny whimp is no fun. And then I was watching the Tour de France like I always do in July, and the moderator said something about how hard it is for the athletes to keep going, and to suffer every day for weeks, and then he told that the riders get mental training throughout the winter, and I was like, “Huh. Mental training. That's what I need.”
Because I already knew that it was all in my head. There is no real reason for me not to run for five minutes in one stretch. It's not super-easy but I should be fit enough to do it.
So I looked for books about mental training in sports, of course. And found that I already had one right there on my ebook reader, one that I had bought with high hopes that I had never read. It's called “How bad do you want it” by Matt Fitzgerald (and I really dislike the title because if someone asks me that question my automatic answer would be “Screw you.” Which just proves that I'm not a winner, maybe, or just really contrary.)
But even reading the first chapter of the book did indeed help me. It says that while training and physical fitness do make a difference the thing that makes the most difference of all is in your head. The people who win races, and who do things that are incredibly hard manage to do so not because it's easy for them (which is what I used to think as an unathletic girl) but because they endure the discomfort and carry on despite it.
Now you can ask why one should trot along a wood path cold and wet, your heart hammering in your chest, and your head beet red. And I would tell you you should because it feels amazing. Not always while you're doing it, not immediately afterwards though both things happen at times, no, mostly because some time later, maybe only the next day you suddenly feel more alive than ever, and you can't stop grinning because life feels so wonderful.
So after reading that first chapter (and I definitely will be reading the rest of the book for sure) I went on my next run. And I decided not to make it easier but to just go on to the next week of the program, the one where I would have to run for seven minutes and then walk for two. Until then I had been completely sure I'd never be able to do that. And at the same time I knew I was being ridiculous.
I decided that I would endure, no matter how I felt, and if I were to keel over on the path unable to get back home it would be alright because my husband would come to get me.
I did not keel over. In fact around the halfway mark while feeling really awful, hot and sweaty my pulse really high with week knees, I felt that grin spreading on my face. The one that tells me I'm really happy.
And the rest of the day that grin stayed, and I did not eat too much chocolate, and I followed my rules, and I worked on my novel for forty minutes.
Now I just have to do it again today.