Running is hard. Lifting weights is hard. Yoga is hard. Sitting around, binge-watching entire seasons of TV shows is easy. Exercise in general can be challenging, particularly if you are just starting to get back into shape.
You will be uncomfortable. You are contorting your body, putting pressure on your joints, discovering muscles in places you didn’t think possible, and quite literally tearing your body down so it can rebuild itself. This is especially true starting out. This is why it is so damn hard to stick with an exercise routine that is new to you.
The first few weeks will be uncomfortable. You will wonder “what the hell am I doing?” over and over again. This is where being cool with being uncomfortable comes into play.
Can you relax into uncomfortableness?
This is the key. Once you can do this, a whole new world of possibilities opens up to you.
Relaxation seems counterintuitive to exercise, but isn’t that one of the main reasons to exercise? I know that I personally love to work out right after work to let go of all the activity of the day (I work with 8th graders all day, so there’s a lot of activity). This is my alone time to be with me in my body rather than stuck in my mind. Exercising (and running especially) hasn’t always been a relaxing activity for me.
Starting off in college I would have to force my body through 3 mile jogs, fighting to get air for twenty five minutes before returning home. This was the opposite of relaxing, but I knew that eventually all this hard work would pay off.
I remember the day I was finally able to relax into running like it was yesterday. About a mile into the run, traveling up a long hill I began to feel the beautiful sunshine and taste the fresh air. The song “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles was playing on my iPod, which was perfect, because the repeated lyrics of “look around, look around” made me realize that is what running is all about. No longer was I pouting about going for a run, I was truly enjoying it. I began to run faster up the hill and I had the realization of “I get it. I get why people like running!”
How do you know if you’ve relaxed? Once you let go of the “I’m in pain” or “this freaking hurts” thoughts and you start enjoying the way every muscle fiber in your body feels engaged. You feel the blood rushing through you afterwards and relish in the fact that you just did something awesome for your body!