I used to be a dancer. My mom made me go to my first dance class when I was four. She said I had to because I kept running around making a mess out of our apartment. I protested. I said I already knew how to dance. She made me go anyway.
I kept at it for more than 20 years.
The moral of the story is first and foremost listen to your mother! 😉😝
Clearly, dancing was (and still is) a great love of mine but it was also something else. An outlet. I didn’t just burn the energy (which made my mom very happy) but it also made me process whatever I was feeling and it worked at any age. After all, dancing is not just a sport it’s a form of art and as such is meant to express feelings. So I never really felt the need to talk about them much growing up.
But then I grew up, stopped competing, got a full-time job and eventually quit altogether.
It was a catastrophe!
I was in my mid-twenties, a lot was going on and I didn’t really know what to do with it all. I had a lot of close friends but wasn’t used to talking to them about private things. Facts yes, feelings no. It’s not that I didn’t want to or didn’t trust them. I actually didn’t know how to put together the words. I slowly learned to rely on them and express myself but I was pretty lost for quite some time.
Around that time Nike and Apple released the Nike + iPod kit. It was a pedometer in two parts: a sensor that you inserted in special Nike shoes that had room for it in the sole and a connector for it that you attached to your iPod.
I didn’t have the appropriate shoes but pretty soon you could buy a plastic holder for the sensor that enabled you to attach it to your laces same as you do with the chip you get on races.
Anyways, I already had an iPod nano and the geek in me had to get the kit just to see how it worked. I had never run before other than the compulsory laps in P.E. classes.
And yes, the first and maybe second run were technically intriguing but very soon I realized something else.
Running got me in another zone. I turned the volume up, I heard the rhythm of the music, I felt the rhythm of my feet striking the ground and it was kind of hypnotic. And at some point, I stopped thinking about the run itself and my mind started to wander.
The more I ran the easier it was. My breathing started to be less hard, my legs didn’t hurt as much and the better I got the more I could think. I actually did some of my best thinking during my runs. I solved work problems, got brilliant ideas, discovered things about myself and processed my emotions all at the rhythmic sound of my feet. In time I was my old self again and got to the point of being totally at peace. I was hooked.
I still run today and it still is my mental outlet. the last couple of years I got much more into it, started to go to races and pay attention to my results so some runs I only do for training. I can’t really think about other things while I’m doing 400m splits for example.
But the long runs and even the 5k tempo runs, for example, are my to go activities to disconnect, be with myself and process whatever I need to process. It’s my time to indulge and bask in my happy thoughts when I’m good and to rant when something bad happens. For me, it’s a form of meditation. But it is also the reason I still only ever run alone and haven’t yet joined any groups. I know I would love the company and sharing this love with likeminded people and I know it would also boost my results but I still prefer keeping this time to myself.
Just me myself and I. In rhythm.
What do you do to process your thoughts?
And if you run, do you prefer doing it alone or with a buddy/group?
Let me know in the comments!