A little under 4 years ago I started running.
To be honest, those first few weeks could hardly be called “running”, as I huffed and puffed my way through an agonisingly slow 100 metre trot : 200m walk, 100m trot : 200m walk, and so on.
Almost 4 years on, I marvel at how an activity can take over your life.
And your spirit, and mind, too, if that doesn’t sound too pompous.
I mean, just look at me, not-yet-4-years old, and feeling totally guilty if I don’t run.
Feeling low and dejected until I lace up those running shoes.
When did that happen?
Yesterday morning, for example, I’d planned to get up early and run, but didn’t, so then spent the rest of the day:
a) feeling guilty and vaguely irritable
b) planning how I could fit my work into a timetable that would allow me to head out before it got too dark to run
And, for the record, when I did beat the work demons, and the light, and the infernal heat & humidity here in Delhi, I ran a super slow 6km and came home feeling fantastic.
When did my body and my mind change so radically, that something I’d never ever done 4 years ago can now determine my mood?
Let me get the unscientific bit out of the way first.
I think peer pressure certainly accounts for much of the guilt feeling.
Before joining my current ASICS running group some months ago, I ran on my own.
My original all women’s running group, with whom I learned how to run, petered out a long time ago, so for at least 2 years I ran on my own.
No idea how to train, no idea what anyone else was doing, no-one to compare myself to.
I loved the solitude, I have to say, but the group energy, once I started running with ASICS was/is totally infectious. But it also can have pernicious side-effects if you are an insecure runner, like yours truly.
Our super active Whatsapp group erupts into life and chatter in the predawn darkness as everyone wakes up, says a cyber-hello and heads out to run. An hour or so later, everyone is back online chatting, sharing their run stats, photos, news.
And on days when I am not part of these morning runs, I feel strangely anxious, looking at their happy photos & run timings & – yes – feeling miserably guilty for not running. And worried that they are making progress and I’m not and…and…and…
This morning is an identical repeat of yesterday.
Alarm goes off at 4.45am and even though I was all primed to go for a 15km with my ASICS buddies, I simply could not summon the energy to get up, and now here I am feeling guilty and trying to assuage that guilt by writing about it… 😛
I shall run this evening, despite not being “an evening runner” and then I’ll feel better. I know it.
Which gets me back to the starting point.
Why do we feel guilty for not running?
I wondered if it was just me, but a quick Google search reassures me that I am not alone in feeling bad when I don’t run.
Not running on a mandated rest day is one thing.
I never felt guilty about those days (Monday for me), since that’s the day I take my dogs for a super long walk in the forest.
So it’s not rest-day-guilt here, it’s not-running-on-a-day-when-you’d-planned-to-guilt.
I found an excellent article on the outsideonline.com website, which I’m sharing here with this link. This resonated wth me on so many levels.
And, as if on cue, and I am telling the Gospel truth here, as I’m writing, my Whatsapp group chat is pinging away with photos of the 14km run I missed this morning, and the happy group photos and the post-run breakfast…
Roll on 5.30 this evening when I will head out to battle my own guilty demons.