moss and brown autumn leaves being a metaphor for resilience and that there is always more than just one perspective

Running and resilience

“I am runner.” Whoa, there I said it!

That sentence had already been a lot easier to say for me. It was the times when I was training to run 42km… or when I “at least” was able to run some half-marathon distance every other weekend.

So much said on self-set mental bars and barriers. This post is about sharing my lessons on resilience which I’ve been taught recently and not-so-recently.

A broken plan

8 days ago I was travelling by train with a heavy bagpack. Finally, I was about to arrive at Potsdam for almost a week of exploring a new city… mostly by running. That was my plan.

Then, while offboarding the train, I missed a step downwards. Stepping into the void is one thing. If you have additional 10ish kilogramms on your back this is different.

Long story short: I hurt my foot’s ankle quite bad. Pain set in immediately, the ligaments were swelling quickly afterwards. If you know me a bit more, that might give an impression: I took THE BUS at free will for a distance I’d normally walk happily (while enjoying the free city sightseeing and the sunshine). As I wasn’t able to just WALK properly I took the bus to my hostel.

At night I decided to start with painkillers to finally get some sleep (and to hopefully cure the inflammation of the joint). Next day I was barely able to do one freakin’ single step WITHOUT pain. I was so disappointed! Exploring the city while running? No way!! Keeping up my good physical running shape that I was just regaining over the last weeks?? Forget that!


Two days ago, I went WALKING on one of my usual running trails in the woods. And I came to the conclusion: running is so much more than a sport that just keeps muscles and cardio system healthy.

Running can serve as a stress remeday supporting the brain stay sane. And running is a wonderful resilience teacher.

On mental stumbling…

Going out for WALKING took me quite some initial mental effort yesterday. Inner critic voices said things like “forget it, your shape is gone” and “BUUUUUT we wanted to go running… not booooring walking” and “running is impossible, so stay home and be sad!”. And I was pretty close to follow those voices…

Then I recalled 3 things:

  1. 8ish years ago I did a lot of “just walking” during autumn and winter to be able to support my best friend while their recovery from backpain (and running together was no option so we WALKED).
    The effect: A year after, my running shape for long-distance runs was really really good – mostly because of all that basic essential endurance training.
  2. 4ish years ago I had severe backpains over more than 6 months. It took doctors quite a while to rule out disc prolapse and other severe physical reasons. So I did a lot of WALKING because running was counterindicated as long as disc prolapse et al was confuted.
    The effect: I came out stronger there as well. Physically and mentally.
  3. Not too long ago, Depression also tried to swallow my joy in running. And you know what? When I finally realised what was happening, I restarted the running habit with WALKING. Putting shoes on, kicking my but outside back on track in nature and WALK.

… and getting up stronger

Then I recalled all the good energy I was gifted by wonderful people at Agile Testing Days 2019 (#AgileTD). And I also recalled my own talk about Gratitude (in business) and resilience at #AgileTD.

So I decided to embrace my inner critical voices. I showed them what I learned about resilience over the last decade. I cherished the autumn sun that was shining and finally I WENT FOR A WALK.

path in the woods standing for the first steps I made after arguing with old, inner critical voices
path in the woods with colorful autumn leaves both on trees and on the ground

So what is resilience?

Resilience is the ability and awareness to see and appreciate given differences.

Resilience is NOT avoidance of stumbling and falling.
Resilience is about HOW you get up again.
Resilience is how YOU TREAT YOURSELF while getting up.
Resilience is about moving on after stumbling or falling.

Resilience is about growing mentally.

Let us take care and DARE more!
May we all grow steadily and safely.