The letters a runner loves to see: PR. PB.
The letters of every runners nightmares: DNF.
Did Not Finish.
You know you've though it.
But you don't need to believe it.
Let's re-evaluate DNF.
Let's re define it.
Because you're more than 3 letters.
Your competition experience is far from being a failure.
And you're definitely NOT a fake.
For the longest time I would (and let's be honest, sometimes still do) quantify my own runs with a "PR" or a "DNF". And it was defeating. Because mentally, in my own thought-scape, even the PRs weren't....*fill in the blank*
And after a while, all the fun and the joy of the run were lost.
So I stopped.
Nothing made sense. Even when I was running by myself, I was still losing. Even when I was having a great run, it wasn't good enough. Eventually, this mental low manifested as a physical low too. I couldn't even tell you long it took for me to realize how heavy this mental burden was and how needlessly it impacted my running.
What I can tell you is a story.
During a short winter vacation to Florida, I packed my running shoes hoping I'd get out for at least just 1 run in the sun and escape the snowy inches of Michigan. With expectations left behind in the frigid artic, I got out the door for 4 runs.
And the best part, they felt great.
I know I ran slow.
I know my pace was laborious.
And the hill over the bridge completely kicked my butt.
But I didn't care.
Mentally, it was a freedom run. And that felt wonderful.
I took down the "DNF" and the "PR" signage hanging in my mental trophy case. I timed my run for total run time rather than mile splits. I could still track progress but not as obsessively. I could run free again.
Can you relate?
Do you find yourself judging your splits? your effort?
Are you letting yourself define your runs with DNFs or PRs?
My challenge to you: let yourself run free.
By running naked.
(No...keep your shirts and shorts on. No streaking. It's illegal.)
Run naked without your watch or music or heart monitor...
Unplug. And challenge yourself to feel your run.
Enjoy the rhythm of your stride. Tune in to your breathing. Look up and find streaks of blue sky. Stop and pet the friendly dog or wave to your neighbor. Breath deeply, dig deep, and push yourself faster on that last leg.
And feel the change.
Feel the effort.
Feel the moment.
And feel alive.