Focus on the Feeling

Yesterday, during my workout, I looked into a store front window.

I shouldn’t have done that.

I was jogging, experiencing “start of run” aches, and the sun glinting off the corner of the squeaky clean glass made me look. The first thing that popped into my head was “Oh, my God. I look ridiculous!” and nearly stopped in my tracks.

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If not for the severe talking to I gave myself (in my head), I would have. But I finished the run. It was easier yesterday in a physical sense, but in a mental sense, I had to push for every single step.

To combat the nervousness I have been feeling before a “run”, and to motivate myself, I have been visualizing, and focusing on how I feel when I am exercising. I have imagined that I am one of the runners I saw on the big *$#@% hill, whisping along. I have endeavoured to feel the energy flowing down my legs, out my feet, and lying as a puddle in each of my footsteps. I try to let the strength of my movements come through and with each step say “You can do this; You are strong.” I have tried to remember how it felt when I was younger and could run several kilometres at a time, pound up the paintball field, or gallop a racehorse.

It works. Yesterday I was not nervous as I started out.

I used to use visualization techniques when I was an athlete in high school, many, many years ago (almost 20! ACK!). It worked then too, but I had not thought of it to help with this until I wrote my post on being nervous last week. I just assumed I would be confident and motivated with no worries like I always was. It’s just a bit of jogging and walking, how hard can it be?

Apparently one of the hardest damn things I have ever done, if my reaction and thought process has any bearing.

This time, at 35, with two kids and some crazy self-esteem issues, I am a nervous, self-doubting shell of the girl who used to bucket over cross-country fences with her horse, sprint around the track faster than anyone else, and crawl through mud and brush in the name of fun.

I needed an extra tool in the tool bag to get me moving so I grabbed onto it.

But, looking in that window made me so self-conscious about my appearance that for the rest of the run I was worried about my sweatshirt riding up, my butt jiggling, my beet red face. I worried about what I looked like while I worked out, instead of how I felt. How amazing was it that I am finishing my run without dieing? How did it feel to walk up that slope and not be winded?

I lost track of it, my reality-check in the window erasing all the gains from my positive imagery and thoughts. It sucked to know that such a simple thing could derail my mental momentum so easily.

Tomorrow is another workout, and I am staying away from windows. Or mirrors. Or reflective surfaces. I need to not worry how ridiculous I look waddling along, my clothes all bunchy, huffing and puffing, with a lobster-red face. I need to remember to visualize how awesome my legs are to propel me forward, how rhythmic my shoulders and arms are, how much fun it is to do.

Focus on the feeling.

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