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A Runner's Take On Leveling Up During Compassion Week

Today we have another guest post from Jacob Gries, a freelance writer and avid runner who is joining us for Level Up: Race for Humanity. After completing Compassion Week, he’s back with another post with his take on compassion.

We’ve just wrapped up Compassion Week, and now we're one week closer to the big Level Up race. I trust that it was a productive, yet sometimes tiring week of practice and training. You may be feeling soreness in places you haven’t experienced in weeks, months, or even years.

At first glance, this past week’s theme—compassion—may not seem relevant in the context of physical training. After all, to be compassionate is to be deeply concerned about someone else’s suffering or hardships. How exactly does that come into play in these times of social and physical isolation, when most of us are running, walking, or jogging the streets of our respective neighborhoods alone?

Well, for one, as a collective, during these unprecedented times we should try to be more compassionate than we otherwise would be. Although at moments it feels like we’re creeping back toward normalcy, everyone is handling this pandemic and the resulting fallout differently. Being respectful of others and how they’re choosing to handle everything (within the guidelines and best practices of course) is one of the best things you can do right now.

But, in regards to your training and race preparation, compassion is also essential. You need to listen to the aches and pains that pop up—show compassion for your body and listen to it when it’s trying to tell you something. While mental toughness and pushing through barriers is an important part of training, you don’t want to overextend yourself early on.

During my own training last week, I experienced this firsthand. While I was initially frustrated that I hadn’t met my daily running goal, I quickly re-framed that momentary failure into an opportunity, specifically one where I could level up down the line by showing compassion for my body and its needs in that specific moment.

When you have that inner dialogue with your body, only you’ll know whether it’s time to give yourself a rest or push through that wall to the next level. The more you care for and listen to your body, the better you'll feel as you ramp up your training in the coming weeks. Showing compassion for my body when it needed it last week allowed me to more effectively reach my goals this week.

So, remember to be compassionate, not only in general in your life but also toward your body and its aches and pains. It will thank you in the long run.