I read an article yesterday with a quote that leapt off the page at me, here it is;
You may not know this, but I’ve been running marathons for 15 years – I tend to keep quiet about things like that 😉 Yes indeed, I ran my first marathon back in the year 2000. (I wanted to start singing then… “won’t it be strange when we’re all fully gro-oh-oh-own…” If you do not know what I’m going on about, go google the song by Pulp or ignore my reference and read on)
Running has helped me find time to think when I have needed it, it helps my mental and emotional well-being, it relieves the small stresses I have from time to time, it helps me put things into perspective, it helps me to connect with my body and engage in the moment, and it makes me feel and actually be healthier than I would be without it. When I first step out into my run, it welcomes me. It is a familiar, warm welcome that I get from my run. It welcomes me back to the road and to the trails the same way that my children welcome me home when I get in as they run in and hug me and want to wear my running hat, drink from my water bottle and look at my running watch.
Running is a big part of my life, it is a big part of who I am — I am a running author, I am a multi marathon runner, I feature in a lot of running press, running is part of my every day routine, and yet it is changing for me in coming months. I am becoming an ultra runner. This Summer, after my Spring marathons, I will be running a 60 mile event, and then later this year I shall be running all four Bournemouth marathon festival races one after the other (the 5km, the 10km, the half marathon and the full marathon) and next year I am going to race a 100 mile event.
One of the main reasons for me wishing to run ultra marathons is because some of my priorities have changed. I am less interested in how fast I can run, I am less interested in my mile splits for each run, I am less interested in how impressed people might be at my marathon finish time. I am more interested in taking my time, enjoying the experience of pushing myself and exploring my endurance. I am more interested in how I feel. I am more interested in taking it easier, and realising that finishing is the goal, the journey is the goal.
Running gives much. Especially to those who give to it. I have run over 200 miles in the past month. I got a special badge for it over at Strava. It was like being a cub scout again, and I was equally as proud. The main reason I was proud is because I enjoyed it, and I did not really feel like I had run over 200 miles. There have been some faster runs I have had to do to get into the marathon shape I choose, but I have just loved the longer, slower runs along the empty sea front as the sun rises on the bitterly cold mornings of January.
The other love that I share here with you is that of the world of hypnosis, and in particular I have a true love of self-hypnosis. Just like running, my love for self-hypnosis has rewarded me richly, and just like running, many of the gifts needed to be waited for. Self-hypnosis is a companion, a place I go, a way I think, a mindset I adopt. It is a resource, a strength, a skill and an ability that I have applied and used for the past 20 years. My work and fascination with it is what saw me move into this line of work and become a hypnosis professional as a therapist, author, teacher and more recently, researcher.
I wrote something on my personal Facebook page this week:
“LinkedIn just advised me that it is now 18 years since I became self-employed and set up my business. I love my business, and my work. I am not driving the Ferrari just yet, but I choose my own direction in life, have complete life-autonomy, am incredibly healthy and am rewarded on a daily basis in altruistic ways and in ways that keep my faith in humanity alive. Some of my best friends are people I have met through my business and each year I encounter amazing people filled with hope, aspiration and a desire to do good in the world. What’s more, I get to do the work I love and it supports the life I have with my wife and children. When I put it into that sort of perspective, it feels pretty cool.”
Just like I had no idea that I had run so many miles this month because it didn’t feel like it, it certainly does not feel like I have been running my business for 18 years. I have enjoyed this field, I have enjoyed exploring it. I am pleased with the progress I have made, but although I’d consider myself incredibly productive and well accomplished in my field of work, my own development has also been slow. There was nothing instant or fast in the way my career developed. It happened slowly. I still have major ambitions that are going to take time too.
While I’m pleased with so much of what I’ve done, there is still so much that running and self-hypnosis has to teach me. And that’s just marvellous, because I am discovering that these fine things in running, self-hypnosis and life in general often come to us slowly. Wanting immediate satiation and gratification, immediate success, immediate results is emphasised greatly in our media and within the world, but can frustrate and upset. In my therapy rooms, my clients know that sometimes to get long lasting, quality change, requires some time, discipline, ongoing application, diligence and practice. So I made this connection with my love of resilience, thoroughness and taking things slow this week and thought I’d share the reasons that I think it is so important and beneficial to us all.
1. We become patient.
Impatience can be torture. Being patient is its own reward; as we can learn from patient mindful meditation, not grappling for any other feeling, any other place, any other place, just being. Learning to be patient with self-hypnosis helps advance the skills. Emile Coué promoted the notion of the effort error – making excessive effort and grappling for the outcome often prevented it from being actualised. Being patient with the results, patient with the application and patient with expectations makes it all far more enjoyable too.
Being patient when running means you get to enjoy the air you are breathing, you get to enjoy the feel of your body in motion.
Importantly though, when life’s circumstances and situations are such that we are unable to control the outcome, patience helps us deal with it while we wait.
2. Acceptance and gratitude develops.
Frustration does nothing to make our goals happen any quicker. Yet when people are racing towards the things they wish to achieve, they can get easily frustrated with any sort of delay; those January gym-goers who do not reduce 5 stone in two weeks can feel that all is lost. People go on diets to reduce weight in fast time, but get frustrated if it does not happen all at once, or if they face any obstacles to achieving the outcome they dream of.
When I wrote in my Adam Up ezine last September when I was coming back to running from injury, I planned to reduce my weight slowly and surely. Since September last year I have reduced my weight by two stone. It has been healthy, gradual and systematic. I have enjoyed it immensely and I learned about how to accomplish it in a slow, thorough way.
We can all have long term goals, which are not always that compelling. But when we take things slowly and thoroughly, we get to enjoy our progress, know that it is long-term progress and we get to accept who we are becoming, and be grateful for that. We also get to be proud of who we are in the now. We get to accept ourselves and be grateful for who we are and incorporate that attitude into our daily existence. When we are always striving in a fast and furious manner to an end goal, we forget to accept and be grateful on a daily basis; we miss life happening.
I want to enjoy my running, not spend every moment that I run thinking about crossing the line at my next race. I want to enjoy the time I have with my children, not just get impatient about how great it’ll be when they are able to discuss their favourite sci-fi TV show with me or buy me a drink in the pub. I accept that they are in a lovely place of life’s development right now and I am grateful that they are developing in the way they are.
3. Mistakes are not catastrophes.
When something is being rushed and we are hurling at high speed, it has more potential to become a catastrophe. When we take things easy, at a healthy pace, we get to discover more about it, we get to explore it and make small mistakes that can be easily amended along the way. In turn, we grow stronger.
Experimenting with self hypnosis, practicing it and exploring the subject delivers great, great benefit. Tweaking our training approaches during long, slow runs means we can experiment with foods, fluid consumption, equipment and discover what is best for us to advance our performance and enjoyment.
We avoid the bigger mistakes happening in the future if we have developed and grown by letting things sink in gradually and thoroughly.
4. We create space.
In the process of desiring something in super fast time, it can dominate life and even become all-consuming. I am all for goal setting and know how important it is to do so. I am also aware of the benefits of prioritising aspects of life. However, we do not want to create an imbalance and become overwhelmed or obsessed.
Think about what you become blind of when fast puts the blinkers on for you. There is much more to watch, learn, enjoy and understand that you could be missing out on. Taking things slow gives you space and a broader vision.
5. We become resilient.
In one episode of my favourite sci-fi TV show Red Dwarf, the Cat is arguing with Rimmer and says to him “it’s better to live a day as a tiger than a whole lifetime as a worm.” There are many other versions of similar sentiment such as the Emiliano Zapata quote “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees” but I’m not sold on the parallel “live fast, die young” notion. I think all of us want to live a long, healthy life.
Life in the slow lane is about building resilience. We learn how to do that along the way, as we develop an endurance in life. The fast lane is exciting and can demonstrate bravery and ignite passion.
– I find it far more courageous and passionate to learn how to run the long distance and then do so than to sprint ten metres as fast as you can.
– I find it more courageous and passionate to explore what your mind can do with applied self-hypnosis in a concerted fashion, learning about yourself patiently and deeply than to expect immediate change with a fad technique. Developing resilience does not mean we become impervious to life’s challenges, it just means we learn to be capable of dealing with it all more effectively.
To live life in the slow lane requires us to trust ourselves. You can still be productive, passionate, intelligent, quick witted and brave. Living life in the slow lane does not involve apathy or procrastination – it is about being observant, enjoying life and knowing that you are learning how to accomplish what you want in an effective, thorough manner.
When I ran my first marathon in the year 2000, I virtually ignored the occasion because I was so determined to complete it in a certain time. I was unaware of the beauty of the places I was doing my training runs. I ran like that for a fair few years, glued to my Garmin GPS watch (that much is yet to change). When I fought the pain and the psychological demons that visited me during my five marathons in succession back in 2012, I realised how much I was aware of what I was doing in my mind and in a perverse fashion, learned to love that pain and enjoy my own ability to deal with what was happening to me at those times.
Last September, I started back running a bit overweight following on from injury and having spent the previous two years becoming a Dad, twice, in quick succession and life was very different. As I ran, my back crunched a bit, all those postural moves of holding kids at arms length getting them into the car or into their cots at bedtime…. My legs felt heavy and like my feet were stuck to the ground with each step. By Christmas, I was running slow and long, and today I am running much faster. I loved every second of it and am truly grateful of where I am at at the moment. In the slow lane, but running faster.
When I first learned self-hypnosis, I strove for immediate results. I started teaching the subject two years later in 1999. I explored it greatly, taught it more, listened to my students, read more books and completely revised my entire approach ten years later. I have virtually used it daily ever since. Today, my ongoing PhD studies continue to teach me things that are new and even more satisfying than anything I have experienced since that first seminar in 1997. Self-hypnosis continues to give me so much more, 18 years on. In the slow lane, but learning faster.
It is easier with hindsight, you might say. I’d agree. Today I can realise how so much has accrued over time, and how much of life has just snuck up on me. I am incredibly grateful for being able to see that, and enjoy it. Life in the slow lane is not dull and boring; it is reflective, contemplative and considered. Slow is a very powerful, wise force in what many might say is a very fast world.