No matter how long I have been working at and improving on my fitness, it seems I always have something new to learn. This is one of those ‘ah ha’ moments that I experienced last week. I’ve been training pretty hard for what will be my 8th half marathon in March. It’s one of my favorite races to run, and this year I set myself on a challenging, yet appropriate, training schedule that I was hoping would get me to a faster finishing time.
I followed all of the training principles that I knew by heart: regular strength and core training, regular rest days and weeks, injury prevention strategies including regular yoga, training progressions, intensity variations, training by heart rate and so on. I put together a kick ass plan that was tailored to where I was at, and I executed my plan fully. I even made regular adjustments when I could feel my body starting to feel a little strained. I’d take an extra rest day, scale down my intensity as needed, add an extra yoga session – whatever I needed to keep my body strong and ready for the demands of my training schedule.
For the first several months, the execution of my plan was flawless, and I admit, I felt pretty damn proud of myself for having finally figured ‘it’ out. No longer would I fall into the traps of over training, no longer would I end up with nagging injuries, no longer would I end up derailing from my plan. No. This time, I had it.
Except that I didn’t.
Last week, I prepared for my regularly scheduled long run. I was coming off of a rest week and easing back into my schedule with an easy paced 11 mile run. I was excited and ready to roll. The route I was running was a loop course through woods with each lap being 4.5 miles in length. The plan was to run 2 full laps and then another mile out and back.
The first mile or two of my run was less than ideal – my body was fairly stiff and my right ankle in particular was really tight. Each landing of my foot against the trail resulted in a dull ache in my Achilles tendon. I was unconcerned though and told myself it would loosen up once I got settled into my stride. For the remained of the first lap and into the second lap that’s exactly what happened. I relaxed and settled into my run, enjoying the nice weather and the scenery. As I hit the second mile of my second lap however, the pain returned, and this time it was more sharp. It was a pain I couldn’t ignore, especially when I went up hills and I could feel the pull on my Achilles that much more.
Midway through the second lap, my ankle could no longer handle the impact on hills. So I walked the hills and kept running the rest. A quick aside here – this was a stupid decision, when you start to feel pain, you set aside your pride and you abandon the workout. I should have walked, but I was annoyed and I let my pride get the better of me. I continued this walk/run until I finished the second lap and fortunately had enough foresight to not continue the last mile out and back. I finished with a slight limp and a feeling of defeat.
I was dumbfounded. How could this have happened? Everything up to this point had been going so well. Dammit, I knew what I was doing! How could I have found myself, yet again, in this position. I sulked the rest of the weekend as I iced my ankle and knew I would have to take some time off running in the coming days and week.
During the following week, I was fortunately able to adjust my attitude, and resolved myself to doing what I needed to in order to get back to running. I took more days off, I iced each night, and I kept up my cardio with low-intensity, low-impact workouts, and I took some time to reflect. And in that reflection, I realized that even though I had been at this game for what I thought was a long time, I still had a long ways to go in my journey. Rather than being depressed by that, I found hope in it, and I felt encouraged to keep striving towards my goals.
This past week afforded me the opportunity to reflect on how far I had come and how far I still had to go.
Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned…
I learned that it’s good to be humbled every now and again. I should never get so confident in myself to think I have it all figured out and that I don’t still have more to learn. That’s how stubbornness and pride are formed.
I learned that it’s ok to be frustrated when things don’t go according to plan. It’s important to validate feelings and acknowledge when things suck. It’s an important part to moving on.
I learned that while it’s important to acknowledge negative emotions, you have to be able to move past them. Staying stuck in negativity won’t help you. If there’s something you ‘can’t’ do, focus on things that you can.
I learned that outside perspective was key to shifting my attitude. I spoke at length to a friend about my training woes and when they asked me detailed questions about all of my other activity during the surrounding weeks, I realized that maybe I had been doing too much and I needed to scale things back.
Finally, I learned that even when I think I have things figured out, there is always room for improvement.
So yes, I’m still learning, but I will no longer let this frustrate me, rather I will continue to take in life’s lessons and strive further towards my goals. And so will you.
Get Fit For It, Beth