In the Home Stretch

Running Diary, Week Fifteen: I’m so close

Each week when I sit down to write my running diary I have to refer to the previous post in order to keep track of the number of weeks that have passed. This week I had to double check to make sure that what I was seeing was correct because I’m now 15 weeks in – nearly four months – and honestly, I can’t believe that I’ve been able to stick with this routine for as long as I have. It’s actually incredible, hence the featured image (‘Dats Incredible!”. I love New Orleans). I’m far from perfect but I’m also not giving up. I have a whole new appreciation for the sport and though I am still not totally enamored, I can see myself incorporating running into my exercise routine more often. I finally ‘get’ the freedom of running and periodically find myself wanting to go out to clear my mind. It’s not often but it does come.

One of the most fundamental changes that has occurred over the last few months is that I am no longer afraid of running. I didn’t, or perhaps couldn’t recognize the amount of anxiety I held and how scared I was until very recently when I started reading over old posts. I see that fear now. I wanted to be good at running; I wanted to be a good runner and I carried a tremendous fear of failure with me every time I laced up. When I had this realization it reminded me very clearly of an incident from a few years ago.

I used to attend a fairly vigorous boot camp every Sunday morning and while I certainly wasn’t the best athlete in the class, I held my own, and so I joined the ranks of a small but competitive group of women. We competed primarily against ourselves and we motivated one another that way. No one kept track of other’s records but seeing other women that you respected kill their workout encouraged you to do the same. Membership in this group wasn’t exclusive and in fact was left mostly unsaid, save a few brief conversations throughout our time together.

I remember there was one lady in particular who I looked up to frequently. She was strong. She was fast. She was in impeccable shape and seemingly there wasn’t an exercise she couldn’t conquer. However, one day when we were in the middle of a particularly tricky TRX component, she began to cry. She was frustrated and angry that she couldn’t perfect the exercise. To me, I couldn’t understand why. Out of all the people in the class, she came closest to completing her set and her form looked good – to me if she was crying, then I should be bawling. A few her friends went to comfort her while the rest of us continued with our workout, giving her a bit of privacy to compose herself.

After class as I was packing up, one of the women I knew from our group came by and we had a short conversation. In the process she mentioned that the lady I so admired had started crying because she had been very sick over the last few years- I think it was cancer – and she was having a hard time accepting her body’s limits. Before she had been sick, I am sure she could have done whatever exercise we were doing without issue. But now, she perceived her inability to conquer that particular exercise as a setback, not only on her workout that day but in her progress in general.

Obviously we are entitled to off days and sometimes when we’re in a particularly poor frame of mind, minor issues can become much more. Mountains out of molehills, I suppose. We set up these goals, which in reality are emblematic of something bigger, and when we can’t achieve the first, we think we’ve failed at the second. It establishes unrealistic expectations and it’s scary. It sucks but it happens.

For me, my ability to run also represented how much I loved my dad and how much I cared about the cause (cancer research). In my mind, if I could train myself to become a star runner, it would show everyone how much I cared. It would follow a familiar but inspiring narrative: motivated by a noble cause, the self-professed hater (me) experiences a total transformation and is finally able to see the light. I know it’s silly and while I hadn’t set out with that thought in mind, in hindsight I can see the pervasiveness of that idea and how much it informed my early foray into running.

I’m still going to work my butt off on the 20th but the reality is that even if I don’t manage to meet my competitive goal, I’ll still have done something good, and nothing that can take that away from me.

Happy running everyone.

On Sunday September 20th, even if I'm like this cat and flat on my back, dragging myself across the pavement, I will be finish that run and be proud of what I've accomplished.
On Sunday September 20th, even if I’m like this cat and flat on my back, dragging myself across the pavement, I will be finish that run and be proud of what I’ve accomplished.
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