Last night I had a wonderful run. It was one of those runs that almost didn’t happen. I was frustrated and upset and tired and a little bit cranky, and the sun was starting to set. But I was able to convince my mom to drive me down to the beach so I could run along the strand. I’ve wanted to run from my pier to the next one down without stopping for a while, but I didn’t realize that last night was going to be that night until I was about halfway there.
I realized that I could.
And at that point what excuse do I have not to?
And as I was running, I started to overheat a little bit. Usually I’d just tough it out, preferring to hide my body under the additional layer for fear of what I might look like to other people. Something had me feeling brave, so I unzipped my jacket, and let it fly out behind me. Every time I passed under a streetlamp, my shadow stretched out in front of me, jacket billowing around on either side of my waist like a cape. I just kept thinking, “You’re a superhero, Alli. Superheroes don’t quit. Keep going!”
I hit my goal and turned around for a short walk before deciding to pick it back up and go until I hit 5K. I thought for sure I was going to beat my best 5K time, even though that wasn’t my goal when I set out. I came so close! But I finished my run, and my Nike app alerted me that I’d PR’ed my 1K without even really thinking about it!
I think that’s my favorite thing about the way that I run right now. I run comfortably and I listen to my body. I just let myself enjoy the feeling and let my mind wander.
I’m by no means great. I know a lot of people wouldn’t even consider the pace I’m at “running”. More “jogging” probably. Someday I’ll get to the point where I actually train for races. Someday I’ll actually set out to beat my PR. Someday I’ll be able to feel my pace, or some approximation of it.
But for now, I just run. I do the best I can. That’s all there is. I just keep trying to get better in whatever way I can. And there are so many ways that I can improve. If I don’t feel up to running faster, I can run farther. If I can’t keep up a fast enough pace to PR a 5K, I can PR my mile or 1K.
Other things I thought about while I was running:
- Growing up I always thought that my friends “lucked” into their bodies, because we did a lot of similar things, often together. In a lot of ways I wasn’t wrong. There are some things that my friends had that I can’t ever get for myself, things like height and proportion/body type. On the other hand, so much of what we did as kids was activity based that I forgot to account for things like the types of athletics we were involved in and account for them as exercise. Even when you know someone well, there are always going to be parts abut them, their lives, and their activity levels that you can’t assume you know. This realization just further reinforced that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else. We all have different bodies that will take differently to even the same exercise regimes. We all have different histories with diet, health, and activity that all work to make us who we are inside and out.
- I often romanticize myself, my life, and my body when I was thinner. Particularly when I was around 175 pounds about 3 years ago. What I often forget to take into account was that I was dealing with incredibly high stress levels, was experimenting with smoking, was eating roughly 800 calories per day, getting blood tests every other week to monitor how that was affecting me, taking supplements, and was only fairly active at best (the one time I did P90X I overtaxed my muscles which combined with caffeine and stress to put me in the ER with muscle spasms that I thought at the time was a heart attack). It’s so easy to get caught up in what I looked like without remembering what else was going on with my health. I’m incredibly proud of myself for getting past that mindset and coming to terms with the fact that health is about more than looking good. It’s about feeling good, functioning well, and being able to accomplish my goals.
- Someday I’d like to be a role model for other people in my situation. I want to be able to tell them that I was strong. That I didn’t quit when it got tough. I want to represent strength and fortitude worthy of being inspirational. That in and of itself was enough to push me to my goal. It’s stuck in my mind and kept me motivated through today. Hopefully I’ll be able to remind myself of that every time it gets hard. Maybe I’ll put a reminder on my motivation board. (More to come on that soon!)
What about you? What do you think about when you work out? What keeps you going when the going gets tough?