Say hello to Jen. Jen is openly vocal about what she doesn’t like about running. If you listen to her, you’ll realise she is saying things that you’ve probably thought, might still think but maybe have never vocalised yourself. It isn’t the stuff about running being boring, not being able to run, injuries/time issues nor is it about not being able to run far enough or fast enough. As Jen puts it, it’s the monkey on your back. It’s the mental side of running. The stigmas of feeling like you don’t belong or feeling uncomfortable like everyone is watching you running. Its all those things that build up negativity in your mind and lead to anxiety or panic. We’ve all been there, probably me often than we’d like to admit.
Jen has supported me since day 1 of my running obsession. Listening to me talk and talk and post a constant stream of running-themed babbling. She also kept saying “no” each time I tried to coax her out for a run. Which is totally fine. I don’t want to make people do something they don’t want to. I do however want to support people do the things they’d like to do but have a monkey to beat down first.
I was chuffed when Jen finally said she’d like to go for a run. Even though she pre-warned me that she’d be a challenge to get out the front door (I didn’t really believe this knowing she’d started doing some Park Runs etc.). A midweek run around Tooting was arranged. I’d agreed to come meet her at hers and push her out the front door!
The day came around and I knew this meant the pressure and thoughts would have been building up. There were so many excuses Jen could have used to talk herself out of this run. But she didn’t. She confronted the thoughts she was feeling. She did try one excuse and hour before we were meeting, worrying about how cold it was, and I could see this was a weak attempt at flaking out. I thought I might have to talk her round, but a single reply and she was back on track. She is so much stronger than she gives herself credit for.
We me at her place and her other half, Dave, did the pushing, sending us out into that cold. A lap of the common is about 5km and it goes by in no time at all. We chatted the whole way and were back before we knew it. Jen wasn’t done though. She realised we’d done just over 5km and wanted more. She insisted on another km as she’d never run that far before. I couldn’t stop smiling. The excitement was for real, she even found a new muscle in her leg. Crazy tool.