I have been running regularly since I moved to Saigon two months ago. By “regularly”, I means at least three times a week.
When I was back at home in Hanoi, I didn’t like running. I’ve read many articles about the physical and mental benefits of running; admired people who run; and attempted to run many times. It was still a boring form of exercise. However, during the first days here, my sister took me to a nearby park – the Tao Dan Park, which is absolutely a lovely place to get some fresh air daily. I needed to exercise to lose a few kilos, get in shape and release excess energy (aka stress) so I run.
At first, it was merely enduring and tiring. I spent the first two weeks to get my body familiar with running. I would started by walking around the park two times to warm up and loosen my joints, then run for two rounds continuously before I was out of breath and took a break. After 10 minutes I would run the third round then walked a few rounds more to calm down and finally stretched. So I started with three rounds and gradually increased my target to five or six rounds depending on days. Though I could achieve my target, I have to say that my run was not that satisfying. When I run, I constantly thought about the next round and the finish line (a tree or somewhere at which I started running). I was running too fast to impress people that I was seriously out of breath. Thus, after each round, instead of feeling better, I often heard an inner voice telling me to run faster so I can finish the run as soon as possible; or felt a constant urge or the need of hurry. As a result, I felt exhausted after each run, physically and mentally. Though I was happy that I followed my plan and run on that day, I didn’t feel motivated thinking about the next run.
Magically, I still run. Maybe the desire to get in shape as soon as possible is what motivated me to continue running. One day, when I was running and started falling into that mind trap, I recall a book I recently read – “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle – in which “stress” is said to be caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there”, or being in the present but wanting to be in the future (p.69). And it’s so my problem!!! Having thought of that, I slowed my pace down and kept repeated this line over and over again my mind: one step at a time, one step at a time, one step at a time. It did help. On that day, when I finished the run, I still felt physically exhausted (which is one of my target) but my mind was a lot more peaceful.
The more I practice this mindset, the better it gets. I no longer focus on the quantity but rather concentrate on the quality. Now, when I go run, I just run. No counting rounds, no hurry up, no showing off. I run at my own pace. I run following the rhythm of the song I’m listening to. I run looking up to the sky, looking down to the ground, looking left to a handsome man or looking right to avoid other people. I run along the outer edge of the park or through small roads inside it or turning left/right to new routes. Now, I run for fun and joy. Of course it still takes efforts and that’s why I say it is “enduring and enjoying”.
P/S: running allows me to improve my patience and increase my endurance which I find really helpful and positive in my current life situation.
P/S/S: The Japanese author – Murakami – has an amazing book about his running experiences titled “What I talk about when I talk about running”. I recommend this book to everyone, either you love or hate running, you still get something from it.
Let’s go happy running ^^
*[Image source: http://breatheatsleepfit.tumblr.com/]