But my app does claim to get you from zero to 10K, so it felt right. I said yes immediately, not stopping to think of the ‘what-ifs’ or the ‘I-can’ts’. If I know I can, then I can.
And I do know I can. Of course I can. The body was made to move, fuelled by good nutrition and innate strength.
I’ve finally let go of thinking of that required strength as character or willpower. Young children don’t need to find the willpower to run, skip and play; other species exercise naturally without struggling to fit it in to their schedules. So I’ve decided to bypass the conditioned negative thoughts and just do it. It’s meant to feel good – some of us have just got used to thinking of it as a chore.
This is an entirely new approach for me – thinking of my strength as innate and not something that needs to be worked on. I’ve struggled in the past with exercise. Written off at a very young age as being no good at sport, I mistook my slender physique throughout early adulthood as a sign that I was ‘getting away with it’. I missed the Jane Fonda revolution in the eighties because I could get away with a bikini without all that effort. Later, when the effects of self-neglect started to kick in, I tried all sorts of strategies to win the battle against my flabby body so that I could be happy with its size and shape. How utterly ridiculous is that – to fight against something in order to be at peace with it?
And I was actually surprised when none of those strategies worked for me. It took years to realise that the body responds when you work with it, not against it. In fact, that’s not right either – there’s no work involved in what comes naturally, and the body is not a separate object but a part of us. So looking after it is an act of self-care and there’s no battle to be won. That’s not to say it’s going to be easy: this poor wee neglected body is very out of shape after years of inactivity caused by illness, caused in turn by self-neglect. I decided some years ago now to stop that self-neglect – starting by cleaning up the diet, then progressing to recognising the role that negative thinking and self-talk has on personal wellbeing. There are improvements to be made, and I’m in the flow and enjoying making them. Now my body is telling me loud and clear that it’s time to get moving, and I’m peaceful enough in myself to finally listen.
The app takes you very gently through a process of alternate walking and running. After today, I know what I’m dealing with. It took the whole of the minute and a half at walking speed each time to get my breath back after only a minute running. So yes, my body was designed for this but it’s in need of a lot of reconditioning.
I’ve caught myself making plans to do more than just running – my kettlebell and rebounder have been at the ready for months – in moments of panic at the sight of my flabby arms and wobbly belly. But I’m sticking just with the running for now, and trusting that as my body becomes fitter and stronger, it will ask for the exercise it needs and it will be so at one with my being that I will feel inclined to move it as it’s meant to be moved. There’s no place for those negative niggles about something as trivial as body image in my new life, so I have already let them go, and you know what? I feel great already! Almost as if that 10K is already run...