by Husna Lapidus
Husna and run club members in the lobby getting ready to have an amazing run!
I was one of those people who automatically jumped to the conclusion that I hated running. It’s mindless, I’d say. It’s so boring to just put one foot in front of the other.
I felt those thoughts genuinely, but now I know I was ignoring the root of those feelings. When I notice other people complaining or talking negatively I recognize it immediately as a sign of low-confidence or feelings of inadequacy. In my own profession, I aim to convey this message: We all love to do what we are good at, and we are good only at what we practice.
Meanwhile, I was limiting my own growth with negative self-talk. I won’t be able to do it. I have failed at it every previous attempt. Self-talk transformed into public-talk, at least it did on one fateful day that Kevin Collins overheard me dishing with a friend in the gym lobby.
I just want to introduce myself, said Kevin, who was lurking timidly in the shadows about 8 feet away from us. I’m the Run Club coach here at Elevate, and I’m so curious to know more about your experience with running.
Oh, I’ve tried it. It’s just not my thing. Kudos to you, but my body isn’t built for it. I get injured every time I try.
What if I could promise you I can make you into a runner? Would you give it a try?
I chuckled, and said to Kevin, sure, I will let you attempt to convince me.
He gave me a log sheet and a quick breakdown of the Run Club rules: Once weekly run hard, once weekly run long. The rest of the week do no less than 15 minutes of jogging easy. Don’t worry about speed; focus only on consistency.
I kept a smile on my face, but inside I was thinking, does this guy realize that 15 minute jogs are hard and long for me? Well, at least the pressure is off – when I fail this time, it’ll be Kevin’s fault.
The first time I showed up to Run Club, we ran hill repeats. Kevin told me to take it easy since it was my first day. The friendly energy from the other runners made me want to run harder, but Kevin reined me in.
I am making sure you come back tomorrow, he said. Give it no more than 70% of your effort.
While the others ran hills for 20 minutes, I was allowed only 15.
The next day, I felt great, so I went back for more. This time, a rainy cool morning, I was the only other runner besides Kevin.
Umm… Maybe I’ll go do weights or yoga today instead? Don’t feel like you have to come out running just for me.
He completely ignored my words, talking continuously so I couldn’t voice any further objections. I could barely utter a word before we were outside jogging, side by side. How was it I was not panicking?
To distract myself from the intimidating fact that I was “running” next to a former Olympic-level athlete, I peppered him with questions, challenging him with all the issues I took with running. You got questions, I got answers. I love questions so keep em coming.
By the time we got back, I had logged 32 minutes of running without me hardly noticing. In that half-hour, the other thing I gained was a sense of trust in this man. He genuinely cares about his runners. He is experienced and knowledgeable and eager to share his wisdom with his runners.
That first month, I was loving Run Club. I went as often as it would fit into my schedule. Every time, Kevin would check in with me to see how I was doing. I declared proudly, I’m all in.
Then the pain started to creep in. First, it was my ankles. Then my shins, my knees, my hips, my back. Sharp pains, deep aches, stiff joints, throbbing muscles. With the pain, doubt followed.
See? I’m just prone to injury. I ought to choose a different sport with lower impact. Maybe daily runs are not the right idea after all. I mentioned my various pains and discomforts to a few folks at Run Club, and the general response was, “Oh, yeah, I have that.” These people must have mild pain – mine must be way worse. Still, I tried to ignore my discomfort a while longer. After a few days of painful, annoying, sluggish runs, and I decided to tell Kevin that I’m done.
“I’m so discouraged, Coach,” I told him. “I had been doing everything you told me to do. I follow all the rules, and here I am in pain just like every other time I’ve tried a running program.” For twenty minutes he listened and talked to me about working through it, how to measure and record pain over days and weeks and to see the long view and overall trends. He told me what happens when runners stop altogether as compared to continuing to run with modifications.
I was sure that day would be my last day at Run Club, but now I know all of this is still just part of the beginning. Are my aches and pains gone? Some are, some aren’t, some are on their way out and some are just starting to show up. I’m learning to listen to and train my body in a new way, but more remarkably, I’m learning to listen to and train my mind. For someone whose job it is to train brains, Run Club has been schooling me.
What I’ve learned is that just like soreness in my knee that nags and pleads with me to stop and succumb to laziness, my mind acts sore at times, too. Mind-sores are thoughts that make us put off till later what we ought to do now, ideas that doing nothing is acceptable this time, and feelings that prevent us from achieving discipline.
I had been looking for that one thing to keep me motivated, and although I’d find motivation here and there, I couldn’t hold the feeling. Kevin had great suggestions: meet more of the runners, engage with the Elevate Run Club facebook community, consider all the health benefits, notice your physique improving, imagine where you’ll be this time next year, be a role model for your kids. Still, every single day I fought my mind over the question of whether I felt motivated enough to run. I’d scan my body for evidence to support the need to skip a day.
Motivation is the wind in my sails, and I’ll gratefully catch a strong gale now and then. But discipline trumps motivation, for me at least. At least for now. Discipline is my own; it is my sailboat on this journey. It’s up to me and no one else to tend to this vessel. I’m sticking with Run Club because it gives me all the resources I need to develop it, make it strong, polished, and unsinkable. While mine is not the fastest, showiest, or most trim, it makes me happy to know what I have is earned. I now feel fortunate to have found Kevin that day at Elevate, for his guidance and support. I’m glad for the runners I’ve met to help keep things interesting along the way. I know things will only get better from here because I am running a disciplined and ever-tightening ship.