by Carol Willis
There’s been a few thoughts floating around my mind for a while now. Firstly, triggered by the recent RW article on the proverbial wall that runners encounter, I started thinking about the “mental” wall we sometimes hit. I’ve experienced the physical one too, but the mental one is far worse in my opinion.
I’d be prepared to guarantee that every runner out there has, at some time, encountered the mental wall while out on a run – the thoughts of self-doubt, the little voice in your head that tells you at 18k your legs are just too tired to finish, the appalling idea that you just aren’t cut out for this. Yeah, we all know those voices and we all have different methods of overcoming that particular block.
There’s another mental wall that I encounter almost every day, not myself personally, but when speaking to others. Do the words “but I’m not a runner” sound familiar to you? What about the very safe “I don’t have time” or, even better “I’m not good at exercise”?
Once upon a time I used those words too;hell I even had a medical professional tell me that I couldn’t run. What better excuse could one ask for? But let me share a little of my philosophies on these excuses, philosophies which led me off the couch and into the scary world of exercise. As an aside, I say exercise first, before I refer to diet because as long as I keep moving the times of poor diet don’t affect me as badly. In other words, I can fall off the wagon and not gain weight IF I keep up my exercise regime. So exercise is important to me.
The thing about little voices in your head and lame excuses is that you tend to believe them because it’s just easier. And we all feel a little weird when we argue with the voices in our heads. It’s not a walk in the park to undo a sedentary lifestyle, it takes guts to turn your life around – it also requires getting over that mental wall.
The first event in a long chain that got me to where I am now was a book. Obviously a diet and fitness book, but one whole chapter focused on the human body.
In short, I learned that the human body is an engineering marvel, we have more movable joints than any other creature on the planet – we are created and DESIGNED to move! It’s what we’re made for and parking on the couch is just plain rude. I can dig deeper into how the body metabolises, uses energy, adjusts to fat-burning activity but you can look that up anywhere – the point I’d like to drive home is that you absolutely need to get off the couch and start moving, regardless of the lame excuse you might favour.
And let me point something out to you – recommended exercise programs for beginners say that you should start out with just 10 minutes a day. Did you know that 10 minutes is only 1% of your day? Everyone can find that! Once you build up some fitness, you can extend that, mix it up and find a plan that suits you.
To finish off my piece, I’ll share with you that I was told I couldn’t run. And I couldn’t…at that time.
So I began with walking, eventually I got faster and walked longer distances until I got to the respectable time of 7:41/km and walked my first half marathon. I was resigned to always walking when I discovered that could run again quite by accident – taking part in my running club’s annual grog jog, I got horribly lost at pub stop #4 and in a panic that I might miss the next stop I ran all the way there.
Yes, ok, I’ll admit I was more than a little tipsy at this point and it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t do it – I ran about 3km, finished the route and the next day marvelled at the fact that I had no pain. After a quick check with the doctor I was given the all clear to actually pursue running as a sport. This was someone who paid too much attention to the voices in her head once upon a time. If I can do it, then anyone can…start by ignoring the voices and just get vertical, get moving and watch the changes as they happen.
Just take that first step and begin the journey…