Jonny has been a fitness and mental well-being enthusiast for more than twenty years, documenting his progress for published projects.
You Can Turn It All Around
From the Blues to Running Shoes
To give you some context you need to know that, technically, on paper, I’d had the worst year of my life. I was 47 years old. Looking back I realized that an old version of me would have seen how terrible things were and reacted with a general mood commensurate with bad times. In other words, serious blues. The guy writing this article however, having been changed by fitness training, knows that the past year of injury problems was not the end of the world, even though I thought my life was destined for improvement and even though I am still not at peak fitness. Allow me to explain.
Without digressing into a Game of Thrones-length retelling I’d had an epiphany in my life to separate myself off from certain elements of my family that were confusing my mental state. It was my attempt to avoid further unhappiness from not being clearly loved or supported. One of my clues to me realising this was panic attacks, which I would get travelling on trains and planes, an obvious sign of fearing a lack of control. It's important to not I believe this is a condition brought on by the realization of zero support (and the overload of thinking around this), not from previous traumas.
Yoga, Sport, and Freeing the Mind
So, against this background of personal upheaval and rebuilding personal security was born an internal decision to improve and re-educate myself. I worked out at the age of 30 that if I was going to improve my body, yoga was a good place to start, as it also gave me balance and calming of the mind. It also gave me flexibility and cured my migraines and insomnia. I began to fall back in love with activities again, particularly racket sports, fencing, hiking, cycling and running.
Approaching 40, my sister became an inspiration, having herself taken up marathon training. Note I didn’t say running, for as I learnt over the course of a year or two, preparation for those 26 miles and two hundred yards are all about the schedule before, during and after, not just about one run, 'race' or event.
Running for boosting the spirit, I loved the pressure being off and knowing it was just training. In turns it also eased and challenged my mind, active as it was to a frenetic 'genius' level: not necessarily intelligent, just always thinking, analyzing and assimilating ideas. So yes, I could focus on new stuff: I learnt about managing time, my body, general and detailed fitness, injuries, shoes and the list is endless, but significantly about stamina and steeling the mind for going the distance.
Yoga Improves Circulation and Helps Your Body Replenish
A Boost in Knowledge and Self-Esteem
Suffice to say, focusing on fitness training repaid multiple times in learning and self confidence. It gave me the centre not only to be strong mentally and physically, but also the courage to rely on a new set of healing ideas to see me through setback. Understanding things like:
- 90% of an event, race or session is the mind where the body in rhythm will simply follow;
- listening to body niggles;
- warming up and down correctly;
- researching injury specific recovery techniques;
- using recovery techniques like rest, ice, compress and elevate (RICE) and; movement, exercise, analgesia, treatment (MEAT);
- using strength and weight training plus gym machines to target muscles and joint improvement;
- and above all learning to take all of this wonderful advice...
...from my sister, fitness friends, gym buddies and the Internet to become my own detective Columbo, seemingly bumbling along but knowing everything by the end.
And it's not only the fitness, it's the mental attitude, which comes in a number of ways:
- you are compelled to become organised and prepared, and this gives you a certain confidence and framework for the mind;
- you learn mental strategies for approaching distance running for lengths at a time;
- you become a less sedentary person;
- you'll get used to getting on with things more;
- your diet and attitude to food and your health changes;
- you are humbled, repeatedly until you realise being in the moment focused on what needs doing now always saves you.
Training Forces You to Practise Being Organised
Dealing With Overthinking
It was cool to run off and occasionally tussle with mental instability, where internal conflict and confusion comes from those in your head that have shown dually love and anti-love (Or should that be duel-ly?). When I finally accepted the truth, fourteen miles down a country road during marathon training, that I'd never had a safety net (family support network) and were more likely to get hostility if the subject was raised, I also realised I'd indeed already had what I also wanted: true independence. If fitness training means you too are out of your comfort zone, where the learning is, you can relax: It's all up to you.
Okay, this my ever so personal take; but if you have 'issues' or even 'fitness issues' you'll succeed in confronting them with the actuality of training, and the next decisions are all yours. You want to be a control freak? Here you go. Start by going at your own pace. You want simply to be in charge of yourself? Here it is, write your own schedule. No it's not something you can say will be easy or difficult, but you can definitely say it always varies and you will get better at doing. This normally comes the more you put in. Training then is a mental assist for teaching you how to be a better self.
You Can Do Your Thinking on the Road
Finding Yourself in the Now of Training
If your gender comes into it: As a male it's 'be a man' or man up territory, while for many women I know the push to 'woman up' is definitely a more positive and emancipated venture. Use these spurs only if they help and don't get negative.
Spiritually there will be the anxiety of looking to the future, and the downer of thinking about a sad part of your past. While these can be endlessly questioned, the only thing that is never untrue is in the now of training: the practice, the centre, your spirit in essence. It's pure you, with the wind in your face or behind you, the grind up a hill, the smile in the sun or the awe at a canopy of stars out as a private gallery when you're out at night. Less romantically: You're learning to stay upright, to stay positive and to select well-lit areas for evening runs to save you running into sudden grass verges (which of course I did after being blinded by oncoming headlights at night).
The thing is to be a true detective, you have to make friends with your bumbling Columbo, faltering along making mistakes and running into verges or discovering infuriating and wondrous revelations. Lest we forget the things that make up a life (the day-to-day ups and downs) while being present and filtering the future into a better past.
While inhaling and exhaling all this out on the road you have to forgive your own idiot as these conundrums fall away upon meeting your own genius. It seems like immense cleverness but ultimately all you're doing is accessing your innate well-being and a brain that never gives up searching for an answer.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Jonny Wills