Getting back into a routine of a 4:50am alarm to start a 5:15am run has been easier than I thought it would be despite my littlest man falling ill and me struggling to find my rhythm again in my foot strikes and breathing. Three weeks of illness and essentially an entire 6 months of stress, life and hormone changes, weight gain and sickness all through our household have served as reasons to get back to the running path AND reasons to call it quits.
This morning as I ran in the rain on Pearl Harbor past the ships that are starting to come in for RIMPAC and the foreign sailors out getting their early PT on, I thought a lot about motivation. There are times when I feel completely unmotivated to run or do much of anything. But here I was, feeling all “bad ass, eye of the tiger and shit”, and I wondered, “Why am I motivated RIGHT NOW?”
Then an interesting thing happened. Amid the positive thoughts and feelings surging through me as I ran, a familiar voice started speaking to me. I think this happens a lot and I don’t pay attention, but this time I quieted my mind to listen. It said things like:
“Who do you think you are in your running pants and your stupid braid swinging back and forth on your head and that annoying bright pink shirt, running out here in the dark and the rain? You’re not a sailor or a soldier. You don’t need to do this crap for A LIVING! You’re a just a MOM, and an almost 40 year old mom at that, and its 5am! What the HELL are YOU doing here?”
In that moment I no kidding caught myself making a face at, well, MYSELF. A “WTF did you just say to me?” face. To no one. Well, to ME. I then proceeded to run negative splits (boo-yah!). But anyway…
Crazy lady over here? Maybe. That voice is very real, though. It belongs to the woman I was before I decided to make many changes for the better in my life. I call her “OLD ME”. Therapists use this notion of “you and your former self (or sometimes the ‘inner child’)” all the time to help disassociate the you that wants to grow past something from the you that resists change and is fighting like hell to stay put. Over the years, I have come to realize that “Old Me” likes to come around every time I find MOTIVATION. Every time I find the will to get myself up before dawn or put on my running shoes or choose cleaner foods, “Old Me” is there sitting on the couch going, “Really? I DEFINITELY would not do that. Come sit down with me. Oh! And bring a donut, too.”
The fact of the matter is, no matter how much I may change physically or otherwise, “Old Me” will always be there. For you, “Old Me” might be a you from your distant past, or the person who ate a whole cake 5 minutes ago. For me, she is my FEAR of rejection, of succeeding, of being BETTER than what I’ve been told I’m capable of being at various times in my life. Whoever your “Old Me” is, as much as you want to strangle them sometimes, hurting “Old Me” is the last thing you should do.
JUST LIKE we have friends or family who don’t understand why we are “so crazy waking up at 3:30am for a race to run for HOW LONG?”, “Old Me” doesn’t understand it either. We don’t go trying to kill our not so understanding friends (hopefully) so don’t try to kill old you.
JUST LIKE we have friends or family who are hurting and can’t quite get themselves to a better place right now, “Old Me” is not a person you should give up on. She is a friend. Believe it or not, she’s your BEST FRIEND. She’s been your protection through many storms. She’s told you to use caution at times and sometimes, she’s been right. Despite the fact that she’s often a negative voice, she’s not a person to battle. She’s a person to encourage, love and celebrate.
So next time you feel your motivation slipping away and you start hearing that voice saying “Nooooo! We are not running in the rain today!” or “There is no way I’m choosing a sorbet over a sundae”, remember to be kind to “Old Me” like you would be kind to a friend. Remind her that, “Hey, there’s something I’m trying to accomplish here and I need your support. You can come with me or not and if you don’t want to come with me, that’s okay, I love you anyway…I’ll be back in an hour! And I’m making us a sorbet later, too.”
CHEESE BALL as it sounds, my heartfelt words for you today are to BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND. You may find yourself MORE motivated, “all eye of the tiger and shit”, and back where YOU want to be more often than you think.