Exercise for the Non-Sporty
11 February. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Me and my son running together.
When I was younger, I wasn’t that keen on exercise. Nothing quite fitted for me. Everything I tried I wasn’t good enough at, and I didn’t really have the inclination to try to get better at it. I didn’t have any sporty friends or role models either, so sport seemed like something that other people did. That isn’t an excuse, it’s just my perception. I hated sports at school. It seemed like the teachers had their favourites and if you weren’t one, and it was clear I wasn’t, then you might as well have not been there. Mind you I didn’t like school much either, so PE was just something at the bottom of my list there. If I had a chance I would use any excuse to get out of PE. I wasn’t really unfit or anything, I just didn’t appreciate the chance to be picked last or ridiculed in front of people I didn’t like. My teenage years were not the best of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was particularly unfit or anything. I was lucky in some ways, I had horses growing up, so was often out riding, but that was something I did on my own. The idea of organised sports was something very different and not the way I wanted to spend my time. I didn’t even think of having my horses as exercise to be honest, it was just something I did and I enjoyed it. But, when you think about all the effort that goes in, the cleaning, the riding, the lugging hay bales around, it is quite a physical hobby to have. I loved being in the outdoors, I loved the time and the peace, though I wouldn’t have been able to explain that then. Things change though and unfortunately, the last horse I had, a beautiful well-mannered mare got colic and passed away. I was terribly sad, and I couldn’t replace her. Maybe one day I will, but that was twenty years ago now.
I decided sport wasn’t really my thing. Everyone that did sport seemed skinny, or fitter than me. I didn’t know where to start. So I didn’t. I’m not one for competing with others, but I don’t like to be judged either and I often feel like I am. If I can avoid a situation where that might happen I will. Just going out of the house in leggings was enough to put me off.
So it’s a bit mad that I get up early now, in the dark to run on the weekends when I could have a lay in instead. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I wish I could have a lay in, but the temptation of a Saturday morning parkrun, or the lure of a race are enough to get me out the door. Even when the weather is bad, and that is surprising. I even run in the evenings, in the dark and lately the icy cold weather when my son is at track practice. Now that must mean I am crazy, because there is a perfectly good cafe there which I could go and sit in to wait instead!
I love running now though, and I count myself lucky that I have finally found something I enjoy and that I am quite good at. By good, I don’t necessarily mean fast, there are plenty of people out there that are faster, but I mean, I can keep going. I couldn’t run for a minute when I started, no joke. Now I can happily pop out for a 10k (6.2 miles) without really thinking about it. I never thought I’d be able to say that. So while I’d like to be faster sometimes, I’m just happy to be able to get out and do it. It’s peaceful and you see places you wouldn’t otherwise see.
One day I saw a comment someone put on Facebook and it meant a lot. I often remind myself of it, and use it to encourage other people. It went something along the lines of, “You know when you are at a race, and everyone else looks like they know what they’re doing and you don’t? Well they are probably looking at you and thinking the exact same thing.” It instantly relaxes me and reminds me that you just don’t know what is going on in someone else’s head. They might just be trying to style it out and convincing you that they are confident when they aren’t.
So I guess really it’s about trying things and finding the one that works for you. I’m not great with team sports, or anything which involves loads of people, but put me in a race, with a herd of like minded people, and I’m fine. More than fine. I actually enjoy it.