I laid on a yoga mat last week at the start of a heated power yoga class and listened as the teacher set the intention for the class and introduced the practice. I often walk away from yoga classes not only with having practiced physically, but with having learned and gained mentally.
Two weeks ago, in my class, it was the idea of being present and the need to silence the brain and mind consciously. The fact that we have the ability to disconnect and create space between all the distractions and noise and messiness in our head, and the present and the now and where we should be in our head. It’s something I always struggle with and always appreciate having a reminder of, or a new perspective to view.
“Let your practice be messy,” she said. Let yourself be imperfect, be slower or faster, struggle and fail. Let yourself lose your balance in the balancing poses and rest longer in the resting poses. Let yourself be what your abilities and capabilities are right now. Push them to the edge, but only to your edge. Come as you are. Be what you can be at this time, on this day, in this practice.
In this constant day-to-day cycle of life, we are always pushing ourselves further. Whether it’s striving for perfection or striving for better, or unconsciously comparing and striving to be like someone, how often is it that we just take ourselves for how we are? Right now. This is me.
“We are under this misconstrued notion,” she said “that when we reach this certain place, have this certain thing, achieve this certain accomplishment, we will be happy.” But in reality we need to be happy now. We need to accept ourselves for how we are now, in this place in this way and be happy with that.
It’s not that you shouldn’t try to improve and become a better version of yourself. It’s that it doesn’t have to be about that. That quest, and accomplishing your best self, is a byproduct of being happy with who you are and confident in who you see right now. It is a byproduct of always giving your best and living to your fullest potential. It’s not the outcome of the equation, it’s a part of the equation.
And as much as it needs to be a part of our every day life, it also needs to be a part of our running life. You may have heard people say “I ran my best race, and I didn’t look at my watch once!” or “I have my best runs when I just run by feel, listen to my body, and leave my watch at home.” In other words, the best comes from being in the moment, happy with what you are giving now and feeling now, and not waiting until the end of your run when you know your average pace, or your total distance to determine if you are happy.
Stop telling yourself you are not a runner until you can run a certain number of kilometers or go at a certain pace. Stop saying you will be happy with your running only when you accomplish a certain thing, reach a certain speed, run a certain distance. It’s great to want those things, train for those things, work for those things, but it’s not the only thing.
If you lace up your shoes, get out the door and run consistently, you’re a runner. If you put one foot in front of the other, even for a few kilometers a few days a week, you’re a runner. If you feel something from it, whether it’s struggle, or accomplishment, or pain or joy, or a runner’s high, you’re a runner. As you are. Right now. Come as you are.
This week, don’t focus on how you’re not good enough in a certain aspect of your running, focus on how far you’ve come in your running. Don’t focus on what you have yet to achieve in your running, focus on what you are currently achieving. Don’t focus on how far you are from your goal pace, focus on your current pace. And be happy with who you are now and what you are doing now, and the fact that you are running at all.
If you are stuck in a negative, not good enough mindset, you will never feel like you are good enough. Instead, switch your thinking to good enough, but not as good as I can be:
- Instead of saying “my pace was really slow today,” say, “my pace wasn’t as fast today as I could be.”
- Instead of saying “I didn’t run far enough today,” say, “I ran today, but I know next time I can cover more distance.”
- Instead of saying “I run, but I’m not very good,” say, “I run, so if I keep at it, I will get better.”
- Instead of saying “I run, but I’m not a runner,” say, “I run, so I am a runner.”
Work to achieve more, improve yourself and overcome your challenges, but start with being happy with where you are and proud of how far you’ve already come.