I am not a runner. When my elementary school had track and field days, I would pretend I was sick so that I could get out of it. When people ask me to sign up for half marathons for charity events, I laugh at them. When I go to the gym and I see someone running for longer than 10 minutes, I am truly amazed. Trust me, I am not a runner.
However, the fact that I am not a runner hasn’t stopped me from trying to be one. In fact, my perfectionism insists that I should be. I like to think that I live a fairly active and healthy lifestyle, I am disciplined and determined. I should be a runner, right?
So I’ve tried to get into running. I’ve really tried. I ran with upbeat playlists. And also tried running without. I tried running first thing in the morning, as well as at night. Even bought an Apple watch, like somehow that would magically make me a runner. Nothing was sticking.
Then, one morning this summer, I was at the gym and my head was off somewhere in la-la land. I started walking on the treadmill uphill and then I felt like running, so I ran. It was at a slower pace than normal and I told myself I could stop at any time. Before I knew it, I ran 5k. It took me about 40 minutes because of the slow pace but I ran 5k! I couldn’t believe it. I was definitely feeling the runners high.
Of course, this got me back on the ‘I can be a runner’ train of thought. I kept this up for a while and I actually enjoyed it. Me, a non-runner, actually enjoying running.
But eventually, it faded away.
Until I came back to school this semester. I started to run whenever I felt like it. Mostly to get out the small confines of my studio apartment. Plus the running trails near me are just too good to pass up.
This time it was different. I was running because I wanted to. No goals. No pressure. Just running to run.
Here is why running is helping me with my perfectionism:
No one is perfect
Sometimes my mind likes to play tricks on me and believes that everyone is living this perfect life when I am falling behind. So I need to present myself as perfect as well. But perfect doesn’t exist. I can certainly tell you that from experience. Especially my experience with running. I am not good at it, so sure it’s humbling. But most importantly, I am not being graded on it, and there is absolutely no need for me to be perfect at running. No one is judging my time so it is actually okay to be bad at it. It has taken me a while to be okay with not being ‘good’ at running and sometimes I still feel like I need to be the next Usain Bolt. But mostly, I am okay with being a bad runner.
Letting go of goals
I like having goals. It keeps me striving and feeds right into my perfectionism. And for the most part, I think it is okay to have goals. But for me, running is something where I don’t have to have ANY goals. And I don’t give myself enough space for things in my life with no goals and to just have fun with it. So I don’t schedule running on my to-do list. I don’t have a goal, distance or time I am trying to achieve. I run to just run. When I want to run and for how long I want to run. It truly is freeing.
Stop caring what others think about you
When I am running, it is just me. It took me a while to realize that no one really cares what I look like when I am running or if I stop to take a walk break. I am the only one who cares. Once I could drop the fact that it was just me running and not a whole bunch of critics following me, running became a lot more enjoyable.
By applying these lessons from running to my grad school work, I am learning to ease up on my perfectionism.
I am curious to hear if any of this resonates with any of you?
What are your thoughts on running? On perfectionism?
Until next time,
P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad #ScholarSunday to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.
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