I work out five times a week. Not because I love to work out or because I have copious amounts of free time; no, I work out because all the business books, magazines and my mentors say its important to do. Apparently, having a strong physical body leads to good things in my business. So, I work out. But, I don’t love it. In fact, I do it mostly because I know it’s good for me. And, there’s a teensy part of me that’s vain. I like being able to buy clothes and have them mostly fit without major lumps, crevices or valleys.
Because I’m all about efficiency, I’ve run 2 to 3 times a week for the last five years. Running is calorically one of the best work outs to do.
My husband Chris lopes like a beautiful graceful gazelle. He will easily do 4 miles in 35 minutes and come back to do a 20 minutes weights circuit. My friend Angie (on left in photo) runs 5 to 7 miles a day and counts the time as her quiet meditation.
Me? I generally pop caffeine pills and put my iPod to a punishing, loud song I to force myself through my run. I am not a graceful nor natural runner. I look like a lumbering elephant. I sound like a wheezing walrus. Anyone I come upon starts to look around, fearful, and patting their pockets in a frenzied manner. I suspect they are looking for a phone to call Animal Control about the wounded wildebeast thrashing around in the general vicinity.
But still, I persist in my running. Convincing myself to run sounds like this:
Shaming – “Anne-Marie, if you were a good CEO that had self-discipline and the ability to manage staff, you would want to run. Look! All the really amazing successful mentors you have run. All the CEO’s you respect and admire run. Running is good for you. It shows mental fortitude. Now, go out and run. Now. You don’t want to be a loser do you?
Bribery – “Anne-Marie, if you run 25 days this month, I will buy you a new video iPod. Once you have the video iPod, you can have all the work out songs you want to inspire yourself on the run.”
Back to shame – “Anne-Marie, I just bought you this beautiful iPod. Why are you letting me down? Why aren’t you running? What happened to the bargain we made?”
Reasoning – “Anne-Marie, you know that running is good for you. All the cool kids are doing it. If you run, you will be a better person, a more balanced leader and you will be healthy enough to meet whatever challenges life throws at you.”
Embarrassment – “Anne-Marie, you know your husband is running today. He’ll make fun of you if you don’t work out and he does.”
Competition – “Anne-Marie, you know your husband/sub-par CEO/neighbor/employee is running today. You’re just as mentally tough as he/she/they is and you’re in just as good of shape. You need to run to keep the score even.”
Once I start to run, my competitive nature takes over. I try to beat my last time. I attempt to run faster than ever before. I run exceedingly hard. I flail. I pant. I wheeze. I sprint at the end. I end up sweaty, in pain all over but I feel proud of my accomplishment.
This system has worked until last week. Last week, my knees started hurting. In fact, my left knee hurt so much that I couldn’t work out for four days. I tried to compensate calorically by eating nothing but boiled eggs and granola bars. This program lasted for about 3 hours.
So, I started researching running. Thanks to Michael Hyatt, one of my favorite business blogs, I came across Chi Running (“a revolutionary approach to effortless, injury-free running”) and signed up for their Vancouver course in September. Chi Running seems to be all about listening to your body. Apparently, my forced sprints and negative self-talk wasn’t the best way to enjoy running.
So, today, Day 5 of knee pain, I went running along my favorite trail. I was gentle to my body. I walked to warm up. I didn’t immediately zone out with my iPod. The Running Gods rewarded me with a view of a beautiful harbor seal. I started taking baby steps, paying attention to my body. I kept taking baby steps. My body was happy with small baby steps. I relapsed. I put my iPod on, jacked up the beats and took off. My knees protested. My Achilles tendons ached. So, I listened to my body.
My body wanted to run slowly. It wanted to run so slowly, in fact, that a woman, on a cell phone, with a dog on a leash and a newborn baby was moving faster than me. That’s right, a woman who was still probably recovering from labor was beating me.
I finished my 3.2 mile run in record (slow) time – 45 minutes.
My ego is bruised. My competitive nature is furious.
My knees? My knees are feeling good. Ego and competitive nature can heal. Knees can’t.
Chi Running. Listening to your body. I’m going to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes.