A couple of months ago, I did something I never thought I'd do. I ran five miles. In a row. This was a big deal for me, a person who spent years hating ruing running, someone who talked herself into believing that yoga to wind down was far better for my own body than picking up my already-furious pace.
Then, because this is the way our bodies sometimes react and life sometimes goes, I got an injury that knocked me off the treadmill and took me out of training for a running relay I had been working so hard to compete in. I had to stop running altogether for several weeks to let the muscles heal. Then, I had to do interval walk-run workouts so I could makeover my stride so I could avoid getting re-injured. When I finally climbed back on the treadmill last week, I felt like I was starting over from square one.
The messages of failure and disappointment creeped in around the Nine Inch Nails blaring through my ear buds. These are the kinds of messages that can kill that day's run, can even make avid exercisers give up altogether.
Fortunately, all of the good stuff that has resulted from running -- even less often, for fewer miles, and slower than I was when I cranked out those five glorious, sweaty miles -- overpowered the negative messages. My thoughts were flooded with all of the ways my life changed once I committed to becoming a runner. I sleep more. I eat better. I'm less stressed. I'm more apt to let small things go. I think more clearly. My jeans hang off my hips. I pull in my belly and stand straighter. I feel lighter, healthier, and better in my body.
The good stuff won. And with that, I dialed up the speed and thought something that felt revolutionary to me -- "I wonder what my body can do today."
No anger at my muscles for being tired and tense and weaker than I want them to be at this point. No irritation that my pace has slowed and I may need to take minute or two to walk every ten minutes. No big, red-markered Fs on the report of this run. Just kinder, gentler, open-mindedness about what I might possibly churn out for that half-hour or more.
That's how I began the workout that ended in seeing "3.0 miles" appear on the treadmill screen. Not as far as the fiver, but more than the 2-mile interval runs I'd been doing. The next run, I didn't make it that far. But I am pretty sure that tomorrow I will exceed that 3-mile mark. We'll see what my hip flexors and glutes and lungs and brain are up for.
I credit this new mantra with moving me forward when I felt like I was sinking into a pit of failure.
What words have helped you move closer to your fitness goals when you felt like all hope might just be lost?
A few more running questions for you:
[photo credit: Getty Images]