I was reading a book on beginning running by John “The Penguin” Bingham (
No Need for Speed
, which I highly recommend for anyone interested in starting to run for the joy of it), and he devoted an entire section to understanding the bad inner demons that can discourage our efforts.
I paused for a moment, thinking about how I’ve been handling the moments when I run and I am feeling as if I want to stop before my workout goal is done. A run can go badly for all kinds of reasons, such as I’m just tired. Or sick, like I was last week. Or bored.
During a sub-optimal run, if I can’t distract myself from noticing how slowly the time and miles are going by, I end up with voices in my head. The first voice I hear is sometimes whiny: “I can’t do this. It hurts. I suck. I’m too old for this shit.” Sometimes it’s concerned: “What is that twinge in my hip/ankle/foot? Should I be worried?” Most of this voice involves failure — fear of it or assumption that’s where I’m headed.
But the inner voice I hear responding to the negative voice seems a little disconnected from me, as if it comes from some foreign place, yet still very clearly my own. Sometimes this voice tells me it’s ok to stop or modify my workout, that it does not make me weak or a quitter. But most of the time this voice says, “You can do this.”
What’s odd to me is that the nagging and cautious voice in my head uses the pronoun “I” while the caring and encouraging voice uses “you”.
I guess this is progress. I’m not sure how or when it started happening, but perhaps this kinder voice developed as a way to treat myself as I would someone I care about rather than as a piece of loser garbage. It’ll be great if I can integrate that voice even more to get rid of the negative talk: “I can do this.”
Heck, I’d settle for “we”.
I have to say, it pisses me off that my parents taught me such self-loathing. But at least I know I can work at exorcising their horrible messages from my brain. I just wish it weren’t so hard or didn’t take so long.
And those were the people who claimed to love me more than anyone else ever would. Nice.