Half running and half walking on the running machine is about right for me. This is where I find myself today, and as always, it is never an easy escapade for me. I like to exercise, but I am not that keen on running. Running is painful on everything. All of me hurts when I run.
But I do it anyway.
I find myself on the running machine for the fifth day in a row. Punishing, but I have to do it because I caught a glimpse of myself on a video ringing a bell in a temple in China. I thought… oft, man, you are letting yourself go.
When I run, my target is always the same. Get to 5k as quick as I can and quit. Most days, I can make that. I might be a sweaty mess, and my average time would be an embarrassment for an eighty-year-old man, but at least I get there. With my authentic running-walking style, I get there in the end.
Today, I find myself struggling. It is my fifth day in a row, and my legs and body feel ok. They are getting looser, but it is my head. My head isn’t in the game. A couple of minutes into it, I check the Apple Watch to see how much longer I have to go. I am ready to quit right there and then. Why should I keep going? After all, I have been good with the running recently, and I deserve a break。
I kept telling myself this truth.
I needed to change something. I would listen to an audiobook when I run because it is learning time and exercise time for me. Double success at the same time for one activity. A two for one deal on my time. It is how I roll.
But not today. I was off today.
So it was time for a drastic change. I needed to hoof it into my music app and get myself something radical to listen to. Something that could force me into pushing myself through that pain barrier. I know it was five minutes in, but it was a painful experience so far, right!!
I put on the music app, got to the downloaded songs and pressed shuffle songs. Pumped up the running pace on the machine and went for it. Head down. The music was outstanding. Each track reminded me of something long gone in my past. As the songs flipped over into the sounds of my history, I could see the personal story behind each track in my mind. Where I was when that sound first graced my awareness, the images, the noises, and the smells wafted into my memory. They filled my mind with colourful 4D pictures.
I flicked through after a couple of minutes each song, moved by the memories, but I was nursing a desire to keep exploring the music and to keep my attention away from the Apple Watch on my wrist. As the tracks got better, the memories became much fuller, and the experiences changed to be richer in detail but darker in the context.
The songs played on, and the pictures continued to build crystal clear pictures in my head. Pictures now clouding with anger, sadness and regrets. Each track reminded me of something from my past as I continued to roll every bit quicker through the playlist.
Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man
M People – Itchycoo Park
Rumour Has it – Adele
Tom Petty – Free Fallin
The Lumineers – Charlie Boy
The Band – The Weight
R.E.M – Man on the Moon
Nirvana – Come as you are
Plan B – Hard Times
Eurythmics – Here comes the rain again
James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
David Bowie – Sorrow
Paolo Nutini – Rewind
The Killers – Jenny was a friend of mine
The Foo Fighters – Long Road to Ruin
Moby – I Like it
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy
Coldplay – Green Eyes
Goldfrapp – Ooh La la
U2 – Desire
Streets – Never Went to Church (This was my cool-down song – but it always reminds me of my Dad)
I could see each of the incidents. Who on earth made this playlist? Was it the ghost from Scrooge? I ain’t no bad guy, Bill Murray.
Running a little bit faster each time, I focused on the high-rise building across the street. I could see this building from the window in the Gym. I picked a window on the structure and tried to focus. But my eyes couldn’t focus, they darted from window to window, and my peripheral vision was in overload.
This erratic eye movement took me back to something I had watched on Youtube, that at the time, I felt made perfect sense.
I remember watching this video and thinking I get that. The idea that you can deal with trauma by practising some eye movement, it is believable. I could understand how your body and mind link up the indication of going forward and how the eyes are the main conduit for that information. When you are moving forward, as a throw-back to the caveman days, your eyes are always scanning what is in front of you as a way to keep you safe. So to help patients move through some trauma, then replicate that movement of going forward as you talk through the trauma and step through to the other side.
That’s my simplistic adaptation of the technique, but it made sense when I watched it.
It also makes sense to me now as I was running with my rapid eye movement. I was running through and out the other end of some of the music induced thoughts. That’s ok, as I desperately want to keep moving forward.
Don’t get me wrong, I like looking back, but I don’t want to spend too much of my time there. Like the friends on Facebook who are constantly reminiscing about the good old days… it is nice to glance back at, but it’s not in my nature to hang around there for too long. It drags me down, despite it being a happy time for me.
Note; I don’t have any mental challenges at the moment, and I can pick myself up when I am down. When I am way down, I have a fantastic set of friends and family that lift me back up. I am fortunate that I have lived a life that has not had any decapitating trauma.
But it has had its moments, and the songs on that list brought back some distant memories. Good and bad.
I will keep going forward. At pace, because I have so much to do and not enough time to get it all done by. I have twenty to thirty-odd years left until I depart this mortal coil, so every minute counts.
Come to think of it…
How long have I been on this running machine?
Feck me, it is almost 5k already, and I am making a great time.
My best time this week. Now that’s what I like doing, beating my own targets. That will be why I will most likely live another forty years because I always want to defeat my own targets, even for my estimated death.
I will keep moving forward at pace. With the inspirational music quickening my steps, I can cram more in with the time I have left and not spend too much energy on the time that has gone.