Running into the void...how jogging helped me quit smoking, and how I'm using it now for mental and physical strength.Read Now
When I quit smoking in the spring of 2011, it was sudden. Although I was building up to it gradually over a couple of years, the way that I did it was quickly and with a lot of focus and energy. I decided I was done and went forward into the storm of mental chaos, physical discomfort, addiction repatterining, and an overall sense that "I am greater than nicotine" and "I will win in this situation."
One of the great helps that got me through this massive life change 9 years ago (yowza, just realized I'm almost at my 9 year anniversary!) was running. I'm not a fan of running at all. When I was 12 I was good at it. Then at 15 I picked it back up for a few months. After that, I would usually go for a run when I finally feel bloated beyond control, or when our family decides to sign up for another annual Turkey Trot event. Typically my knees start to hurt and my mind wanders.
But when I quit smoking, my mind NEEDED a place to put all of its energy into. The challenge of getting farther than I had the previous day, or week, was met with gusto and take charge attitude. Interestingly enough, I feel the exact same in this current crisis. Last week I decided to run to get out of the house and give myself a huge physical challenge (and yes, I was also at the point of over-bloated madness from my brother's amazing homemade cooking). I went out and ran 2 miles. Just like that. Now, I will say that I was clearly jogging at a pace slower than a person walking at some points, but I DID IT. It took me roughly 25 minutes. I was a little judgmental about that time being long, until I thought, "you haven't run 2 miles in several years." So yeah, then I gave myself the pride I deserved.
I've done a cry run within the past week as well. The news that day suggested we might be home schooling well into fall 2020. That hit me so hard it was unbearable. I craved my old life back in that instant. It was very hard to imagine the next 6 months being happy and easy. The tension in the house was high as well, with a lot of personalities and time on our hands, sometimes it just felt like I couldn't have any time alone, or find solace peacefully by myself. I started running, and just ended up sobbing. Sobbing and talking out loud. And I ran 2.5 miles at 24 minutes. The joy and peace I felt afterward was astounding. I was able to communicate to my family members how much more help I needed, and the feelings I was going through.
Last night I ran 2 miles in 22.5 minutes.
The similarity of quitting smoking and being shut in by the Covo is striking.
Both times, I was searching for control.
Some things are definitely out of my control: world economy, what this virus is, how it will end...
Yet some things are in my control: how I react to the stress, how I communicate, how I choose to thrive.
For now, I'll aim to keep running into the void of the unknown, while training my mind and body to preserve and persevere with strength and focus.
I have always loved to dance! That is why I majored in it at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). That journey was very trying and taxing (and filled with unitards, leotards, fasting, Diet Coke, and lots of wild stories about parties) and I don't really recommend studying dance at a conservatory for those who abhor mental challenges of endurance, or couch potato types. However, I DO recommend at home cardio dance for EVERYONE. There are a ton of options on ClassPass, YouTube, and as of late, Facebook Live. Get your best workout clothes on (ranging from tight leggings to baggy sweats), put on socks and supportive shoes, press play, and make yourself happy and healthy at the same time. For more information on the psycho-physical effects look here.
For this week, I'm highly recommending The Fitness Marshall's current short Speed Set. It is so fun and really helps to get the cobwebs out of the brain and body. Grab your glass of water and get to it!