I ran a half marathon in extreme heat today. For the first five kilometres my head was crowded with thoughts – from looking good to proving that I was a great runner to my posture and breathing. It was mostly about me. I already know that when I am in this state I feel unnecessarily pressured and worried. So I forced myself to just smile even as I took a beating under the hot midday sun.
This has always worked for me, the smile that starts as a pretend and forced one eventually warms and lights up my heart. It triggers a decision to get out of my head and into my heart, being present to all that was happening inside and outside of me. It prompts me even to see humour in the most dire of situations, just like this one. And I had lots of funny moments and mishaps on this race including making a wrong turn and having blocks of ice sliding down from back to ass. Only when I ceased to think just for myself did I ease up.
Then I was kinder to others and smiled sincerely, acknowledging each one I passed. I gave a reassuring pat to team mates who I felt needed an extra boost of support. I was also kinder to myself, making sure I took proper care of what I needed in every aid station. I mentally and physically reset every five kilometres, dividing the stretch into smaller more manageable chunks that I can hold in my head. This proved to be the best result of loosening up that got me to the finish line, smiling and dancing. Very fitting lesson for me as I go through a work struggle that needs getting out of my head:)