When friends and family come to me with their fitness goals and hopes and woes, I always seem to have advice to give.
“Just stick with it,” I tell them. “You’re not going to see or feel any changes for awhile, and that’s OK. Things happen almost imperceptibly, the important thing is not to give up. Each day builds upon the last. Trust that you’re making a good choice. Don’t give up!”
It’s good advice. I stand by it. What haunts me is that I’m apparently unable to follow it myself.
I am, you see, in the midst of a major slump. I have lots of excellent excuses for the slump. Very excellent excuses indeed…and yet, they are the same tired excuses that over-busy adults all over the country trot out to explain their lack of fitness. If a friend explained to me that she couldn’t find time to work out because she was busy with work, and housekeeping, and cooking, and childcare, I know what I would say. I would tell her that she needs to find time for herself, and that the time spent focusing on her own health and wellbeing will wind up being a gift to her entire family as well as herself.
More good advice. More good advice that I am not heeding.
What I’m doing instead is complaining to Scott. I seem to have lots of time to spend complaining about how out of shape I am. I manage to run about once a week, and then I have even more time to spend complaining about the futility of running only once a week and my continued lack of fitness.
It’s annoying. What I want is instant gratification — to snap my fingers and be back in the shape I was in in 2012. This is silly, of course. Distance running is not about instant gratification. It’s about building a foundation, run by run, mile by mile, day by day. Since I haven’t been putting in the time, I really have no right to complain. But I do. And then I’m annoyed with myself for being a whiny baby.
Something needs to change. Here in the slump, all I’ve been able to focus on was the result I wanted — that magical year of 2012, when I was running with ease and racing and getting age group awards.
What I conveniently forgot, in my nostalgic remembrances of days of running past, was 2011. Ah, 2011. In March, I birthed our amazing baby boy. By May, I was back to running…if you can call that painful, awkward, jiggly, barely-faster-than-a-walk shuffle “running.” I still remember how alien my body felt. I didn’t feel like myself, and I was embarrassed to think of anyone seeing me “running.” I debated giving up. Why go through the motions? I didn’t look like a runner. I didn’t feel like a runner. I wasn’t really a runner…anymore.
In the end, however, I couldn’t give it up. I remember sternly telling myself that it DIDN’T MATTER. It didn’t matter if I was self-conscious. It didn’t matter if I needed to buy bigger running shorts to accommodate my jiggly, post-baby thighs. It didn’t matter what the pace was. I’d always been a runner, and I was going to keep “running.” No whining, Megan. No back-talk. No excuses. No giving up. You are going to get out there, and you are going to RUN. Just run.
Part of the “just run” dictate meant stubbornly refusing to look for results. I couldn’t look. It would hurt too much to consider how much slower I was running, how much harder it was to keep moving. If I focused on that, I worried I would lose the motivation to keep moving at all. No. Far better to just keep running, and not worry too much over how far or how fast or how it felt.
Mile built upon mile until I felt comfortable enough to take on a half marathon training plan. It wasn’t until I started using Runmeter in late 2011 that I realized just how far I had come. I knew I could run 9 or 10 miles without struggling, and I had assumed my pace was back to 9:15/mile or so…about what it was when I was marathon training in 2010. I still remember the first long run with Runmeter. My training pace was actually closer to 8:20 per mile, and that felt easy to me. It was mind-boggling.
“Just run” worked! It worked, and it can work again. I’ve lost a lot of fitness since then, but this is what I need to remember: just keep running. Just keep running…