For many years running has been a past time that I have enjoyed and a major part of the enjoyment is chasing goals. This has generally meant chasing goal races and attempting to continually improve. I have measured myself against previous races and challenge myself to improve times and better my previous race result. I am by no means an elite athlete, however running has given me regular boosts to my ego and great satisfaction as I’ve ticked off goals and lowered my race times to levels that I aspire towards. But can we use running to suppress the ego?
My running experience is a fairly normal experience for many every day runners. Most runners fall into the same category and get great enjoyment from the race experience and challenging themselves to be better than previous. Most would say it is normal for the human being to seek continuous improvement.
Recently I have not had a race to think about. I completed my major goal race for the year in October and since then have been recovering and enjoying running without a race in mind and the freedom that this allows. It has made me aware that many of the ways in which we run in our modern society are aimed at giving our egos the boost we believe we need.
A major contributor to this is online platforms like Strava. Sure, these platforms allow us to make connections and friends through running, however they add the burden of comparison and constant pressure to perform. They reward crushing your workouts not the easy miles that energise your life. They are a burden on our ego and another stress to modern life.
The challenge is for running to be an avenue to suppress my ego. In order to do this we need a reset of our running strategy and how we see running in our life. A large part of this is to embrace a minimal functionality towards running and how I set goals. Most new years start with race goals in mind and a plan to work towards these goals. I’m looking forward to races to be discovered organically and taking running and fitness as it comes. In other words, focusing on the effort and not the outcome. Engaging in the habit of daily running yet still having training structure, however with each runs goal being singular and consistent aiming towards enjoyment and fulfilment.
If we so choose running can be a source of joy and gratitude. We can choose to consciously suppress our ego and accept what running has for us with gratitude. We can take every run as a gift and use every running as an expression of gratitude. And in order to do this it is imperative to step away from running being a challenging, race results driven exercise. We can adopt a beginners mindset and focus running in a different direction and enjoying running on a deeper level. If we let our ego tell us that we have arrived and figured it all out, it prevents us from learning.
While posting our runs on online platforms, does the burden of keeping up appearances and comparisons to peers outweigh the connections and community that is fostered. This is a difficult question and each individual will have their own opinion. What I do believe is that many people, myself included at times have found we are losing our own connection to running in the addicted search for approval. It is difficult to suppress one’s ego when constantly being stimulated to give and receive kudos and therefore compromising the joy of running.
The jury is out on the best way to use online platforms, as there are certain benefits. I enjoy keeping a digital log of milage, shoe milage and training progress. I also enjoy the community of runners I follow and seeing them achieve their race results. However it is time to forget about other people’s validation and external markers of success and reframe toward our inner scorecard.
Running in nature as often as possible is a sure fire way to influence our overall health and happiness. Spending time in nature can have a positive domino effect on our emotions and relationships. Spending time in nature will naturally suppress the ego. There is no ego in the eye of a hurricane.
Running to suppress the ego is about handing over the baton of control to running. This means that running no longer for goals and times. This doesn’t mean no longer racing, and it also doesn’t mean trying less hard on race day.
Running for gratitude
Running for joy
Running for love
Running for acceptance
Running for strength
Running for awareness
It means running for future self prosperity. Are you ready to use running to suppress the ego?