By Katie Rössler
I have started running. I know, I know. How cliché: a mom who has started running. Stick with me though. I have started running, and it is changing my life.
My brother was always the runner. I did ballet and art. Running was his thing. I had my thing. But then I had kids, and I made friends with fellow moms and many of them (of course!) ran. So, I thought “What the heck, I’ll give it a try!” To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much that I set a goal for myself this year to complete two competitive runs. I even wrote it down…because that’s what they say you need to do with goals you want to actually achieve! Right?
The following week a friend texted me and asked if I wanted to participate in the Munich Marathon Relay. I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, I wrote the goal down. I immediately said yes and shared another run I had been researching that would help us with our training. We found other friends for the relay, and at the end of the month, I had signed up for two races.
Of course, the first person I contacted was my brother. Thankfully, he is a running trainer and was prepared to help me out. He gave me a running schedule to build up my body’s ability to handle longer runs and worked with me on how to recoup on my off days. It is a science for sure, but running also has such an emotional component that hit me in completely unexpected ways. Here are the top three things I am learning about myself while I train:
1) I like to let the voice of laziness win.
When I first started training, I felt a voice inside me slowly creep up getting louder and louder: “This is uncomfortable and hard. Just walk. Even if it’s just a few minutes, take a break.” I found this surprising because it first showed up after only a couple minutes of running. As I continued to train, I noticed the voice tried to persuade me even more: “You walked so much today, take a break from your run.” “You had to do so much with the kids today. Run for like 10 minutes and then turn around.” I was amazed at how quickly I wanted to talk myself out of doing something that a) keeps me healthy, both physically and mentally, and b) helps me complete my goal.
I noticed then that this voice is in my life a lot. “Unload the dishwasher later. It doesn’t need to be done right now. Take a break.” “The laundry will be there tomorrow. Plus you can just pull what you need out of the basket anyway. Do you really need to fold the clothes?” You get the idea. I like to choose, what some might call, laziness instead of completing specific tasks, like doing the dishes or laundry. What in reality might take me 10-15 minutes to complete, my mind likes to make me believe would be so strenuous that I must take a break NOW rather than after.
I have realized that there is no benefit in giving in to this voice. The tasks will still be there and no one wins but the voice that keeps me from reaching my goals. I have begun ignoring this voice more and more as I run and get things done in my home. And guess what…it feels GREAT!
2) I tend to forget I am not Superwoman.
The further I progressed in my training something in me changed and… not for the better. I started to become really, really cranky. I mean, I would not have wanted to live with me. Everything set me off. I had low patience, low tolerance, and low energy. This wasn’t me, and I was making everyone around me, including myself, miserable.
In my personal life, I was starting a business and co-creating a support group for moms in Munich, while taking care of two little ones and a home. My body and mind were saying enough! I was running a couple hours a week but had not changed anything about my diet to add in what I was taking out from exercise, and I was adding more tasks to my bullet journal without making sure I had enough time for taking care of me each week.
When I try to be Superwoman without self-care, it is inevitable that I will do more harm than good to me and those around me. As I run, I am making sure to daily eat and drink what my body needs to stay healthy, and in my personal life, I am finding the balance between completing tasks and taking a moment to enjoy warm (I have two kids…it’ll never be hot!) coffee. I don’t want to be Superwoman anymore. I just want to be me.
3) I get frustrated easily when things don’t go as planned and give up.
I have a Windows phone. It’s ok, you can think, “Who has Windows phones???” I do. It doesn’t always like apps and apps don’t always like it. I have a running app to track my progress. Guess what? The app doesn’t always like my phone and vice versa. Sometimes my phone’s screen enlarges to the point of not being able to see anything on it while an app is running, and I can’t change it back unless I turn the phone off completely. I can hear you thinking, “Get a new phone! Who has Windows phones anyway?” I’m refusing to give up on it. See below.
I was in the middle of interval training -run very fast for one minute, jog for one minute, run very fast for two minutes, jog for two minutes, and so on- when my phone’s screen decided to revolt against the app. Super! Now how am I supposed to track how much time I have left? I stopped running, started walking and became extremely angry. I thought, “Phone, you are ruining my progress!” Turned my phone off and then on again and realized in those minutes I could have still been running. I was so focused on what was not working the way it was supposed to that I lost track of what I was trying to achieve. Why did I get upset so easily and give up?
Reflecting on this situation, I recognized that I waste so much energy on getting upset over things that don’t go as planned that I tend to stop what I am doing completely. I started working on changing my perspective from focusing on what went wrong to focusing on getting what needs to be done completed. For example, I left my house without my wallet the other day. I needed to do some shopping, and thankfully before I walked into the store, I realized my wallet was not in my purse. I became so frustrated at myself, at the situation, even at the day itself. Isn’t it funny how one negative situation makes us think the whole day is horrible? I went back home and was about to give up when I thought “Get your wallet and go back to the store.” Refusing to let negative thinking and frustration win, I went back to the store and changed my “horrible day” mindset into thoughts of self-encouragement that I didn’t give up. My day continued to be productive because I was able to overcome my anger at myself and the situation. I continue to challenge myself to keep going when things don’t go as planned and not to give in to anger and frustration, whether it is in my running or day to day activities.
As I write this, I have less than a week before my big run, and I know after this run there will be another and another and another… Because when you find an activity that teaches you so much about yourself and pushes you to be a better YOU, why stop? Running has made me bolder, more self-aware, and stronger, both mentally and physically. How about you? Are you interested in experiencing something similar? My challenge to you is to find an activity that makes you grow and look at the good, the bad, and the ugly about yourself, whatever it is. Don’t stop doing the activity when things get challenging. In reality, who has time to add one more thing to their list? Actually, you do because when it is something that makes you healthier then it should have a high priority on your “to do” list. In the end, it’ll be worth it!
Katie Rössler is a licensed professional counselor from the United States. After living in Munich for about a year with her husband and two girls, she started Positive Connections providing workshops on relationship building skills. Katie enjoys running, hiking, and doing yoga. In 2013, she completed a yoga streak and is hoping to do another in the future. Katie believes in the importance of self-care, especially during difficult life stages, and enjoys helping people to grow.