When I first started running (way, way back), I ran in a pack.
The idea of running solo didn’t appeal. At all.
My running experience in those days was fueled predominantly by ego (yup, I have one..). Each run had to be hard, fast, and the longer the better. Enjoyment didn’t really come up…
I was also silently competitive.
Which means I didn’t openly compete with my fellow runners, but when I ran a faster time than someone I felt equally challenged by, I did an internal self-congratulatory fist-bump and basked in a moment of athletic superiority.. (I know, right..?).
Now, being competitive in principle is not good or bad.
I’d prefer to suggest that it’s what’s BEHIND the competitiveness that makes the difference.
And in my case it was to feel better about myself.
I believed that it MEANT something about me
if I could proclaim to be a good runner.
Being a runner offered me a form of validation.
A sense of worthiness.
And I proved this when an injury would side-line me for a few months.
Because without running I felt LOST. Life felt POINTLESS.
I’d be overwhelmed with self-judgement which would leave me feeling bad. Really bad…
Until I could run again.
And the cycle would repeat itself.
So where am I going with this?
Well, over time I’ve made some changes.
I’m learning that validation comes from within.
As does our sense of worth.
And as I’ve gradually moved away from ego-based behaviour, I’ve noticed that my running feels different too.
Firstly I run mostly on my own. It’s how I engage better with the whole experience of running: how it feels physically, listening to my body and appreciating what environment I’m in.
The biggest change is that I feel no desire to compete in events. At all.
Perhaps the limits of distance, venue and time are what puts me off.
Conversely, I run where, when and for as long as I choose on any given day. Or not.
No comparisons. No inner-judgement.
What was once an activity driven by fear (ego), has become an act of self-love.
Whereas the “old” me would run because I had to get strong to excel in events, these days I only set foot on the trail if I genuinely WANT to.
Only if it feels GOOD. And sounds like FUN.
And that works FOR ME.