One Foot in Front of the Other

Owning who we are is a constant push pull relationship between our ideals of ourselves and our reality and ultimately leads to a redefining of who we are along the way. We are who we are and we are simultaneously are who we say we are. If the two of those versions of self are the same for you, maybe this post isn’t what you need. I am in that particular state of saying one thing but feeling another right now, and, I have been here for some time. When the inside and the outside of me don’t match, I tend to seek out inspiration. Somehow, I got to reading some back posts of the No Meat Athlete, Matt Frazier, and found myself gravitating to his post 8 Way to Start Running Again When You’re Just not Feelin’ It. I have read it before, but I don’t think I ever actually *needed* to read it. As I went through the list, the very first one “Have a goal that is bigger than any one race”, it hit me. All the big races that I wanted at the beginning of 2014 are already out of my reach in 2015. I haven’t been running and I don’t have the base strength built to take on a demanding training schedule. I like big goals, but all those lovely races we runners like to salivate over require starting training in the wee hours of chilly, January mornings. So, I’m out of luck. What else is there to train for if not some crazy distance race?

As I made my way onto number 2, Run Less, I was sighing in submission. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been moonlighting as a 5-a-week runner somewhere, but I when I tried to run, I was running too far. It isn’t the best game plan. I ran a single 5km run once in April, and once in May and tracked it on Strava. It didn’t do me any good. at. all. In reality, I started a small running group at work and took them through a beginners, 3 days a week interval schedule and I didn’t even feel like it was important enough to post about. I should have been happy to post about getting back into running, but I was sad. And right there, folks, were the two versions of me. The want (can jaunt out the door and run 5km) and the reality (starting over as a beginner). I was sad that I was running a beginner’s schedule and not knocking out  10 – 15km runs. Run less was working for everything but my ego. I was smartly putting in the base building runs that allow for me to tackle a more demanding training plan. And, the shorter runs allowed me to add in non-running workouts.

Excuse me while I mess around with the order of the tips…

Luckily, the 4th tip on the list is something that comes naturally to me: cross-training workouts. I hate sitting still for too long. Dog walking, yoga, HIIT…all have been part of my routine for the past 3 months. I can feel a difference in my body. My metabolism has increased, and thankfully my muscle mass has been increasing, but the greatest gain for me was meditation. In the quiet Monday evening meditation classes at Nova yoga, Laura Beth helped me to quiet some negative thoughts and to embrace the changes in my life.

And, here we come to number five, change something about your running. This really threw me for the longest time. What was I going to change? Running is putting one foot in front of the other with the purpose of getting somewhere faster than if you walked. Well, that’s how I have seen it. I realize now that the real change in my running is finding a different way to enjoy it. Stay with me, here, but the real joy of running for me was discovering just what I was capable of doing. Everything was new. My first coaching experiences. Training for a half marathon. Training for Cape to Cabot. Getting my own coach and pushing myself…it was all new. Everything was easy because I was doing it for the first time. I think in many ways this is the real reason people leave their healthy lifestyle choices. It stops being new. The shine of a new program and quick returns wear off. We are left with the reality of the hard work and the diminished returns. I was living this. I was forgetting what it felt like to feel the glow from training hard. While meditation helped me accept the changes in my body, I cannot express how amazing it was to be invited to participate in a vegan “In the Spotlight” interview session with the lovely Andréa from FullofLife.ca. I was terribly flattered. She asked me questions that allowed me (and in no small way, forced me) to be outwardly honest with where I am. To do that, I needed to take a good look at where I was and why I loved being there. I can honestly say that the process helped me push past the last few things to see that training is what I love. If you are interested, you can read the interview here. After completing the interview and seeing it live online, I realized that I am in a place where I want to return to my old, healthier ways…

Now, as we know, I have a thing for training logs and I suppose through my Instagram account I love to document in general, though mostly food. So, when I had to admit to myself that I didn’t even track my runs with the work peeps, I had to admit that I didn’t want to be a beginner again.  See, I have put my running on a pedestal. A big, tall pedestal where I can admire all the hard work I already did and not have to start it all over. Shit. Talk about being a poser. Frazier is right in the tracking; his number three tip. I need to track everything and own each run. I used to be proud of all of my training runs. There is an honesty that comes with it; you cannot fake your run. Running is hard work only in the ability to keep running after you realize how shitty a run can actually feel. Yes, it sucks sometimes and some people are never really able to push past that. It does get easier once you get past the first challenges and the body starts to adapt, and for the most part, this is around the three week mark. There are ways to combat that desire to remain on the sofa, and I’ve taken advantage of them in the past. Finding a running partner can be of tremendous help and I plan to find a running partner for the longer runs  (his number six tip!). Besides, sharing the process is a huge part of the fun for me.

During the writing and planning of this post, I got supremely motivated and, well…I went for a run. I tracked it on Strava and I own every inch of those 4km I ran last night. As Frazier points out, sometimes we have to change what running means to us. In no small way, I think he is acknowledging that as we develop as runners, we change. Our thinking changes. Our priorities change. Our goals change. When I started in 2005, I wanted to discover what I could do,  and it was to prove that I was able to do these things. I was never athletic as a teen, or even into my early twenties, yet I became known as a runner. I changed into someone who not only ran, but someone who coached running. I became a vegan. I became stronger and fitter than I had ever known I wanted to be. People started asking me about fitness and healthy food choices and I really liked that. I lost that feeling over the past year and maybe the timing is right and the stars are lining up, or maybe it was Andréa’s invite, but I think the change, the real change, is that now I want this for myself.

So, I’m running again…just putting one foot in front of the other.

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