Give Me a Break

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
— Theodore Roosevelt

Hey – did you know there’s no prize for running the whole thing?  There isn’t.

This is what occurred to me Monday night as I was ending my run.  I wasn’t able to run the whole thing – I stopped twice for brief walking/stretching breaks, but managed 3 good runs of 8-10 minutes each over the 28 minutes.  I was lamenting that I’d had to take those breaks, feeling like I’d failed, again, after Saturday’s run.  And as I was doing my cool down walk, it hit me – there’s no prize for running the whole thing.

That’s a pressure I put on myself since I started Couch to 5k.  It was also a point of pride, since, until Saturday, I always had run the whole thing, even when the number of minutes of continuous running jumped from 5 to 8 and then to 20 and 25.  And certainly the goal of the program is for you to be able to run for the amount of time assigned each week – that’s why it felt like failure to me on Saturday and on Monday -but the program is a guideline.

There’s no prize for running the whole thing.  There’s not even a prize for running that 5k I’m signed up for next month.  The point is to do my best and to not stop trying.  The reason I started running again was because I wanted to feel strong, I wanted to try to love it, I wanted to run 5ks for fun.  When I measure myself against those goals, I’m in good shape.  I don’t love running the whole time I’m doing it, but there are definite moments, and I do love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I finish a run.  I do feel stronger – that I can and have run for 25 minutes at a clip (not fast, mind you, but still) when just 8 weeks ago 3 minutes seemed daunting is proof enough of that.  I’m excited for the 5k next month – Karen’s going to run with me (we’ve “run” it before, but we were both near the back of the pack – we’re going to do better this time!) – and I’m on the lookout for more.

So, when I had to walk only 5 minutes into tonight’s run – I think the weight circuit yesterday morning was the culprit, since my calves were screaming with pain, which rarely happens, and never like this – I didn’t let myself get down about it.  I just said, “Stretch it out and get back to it.”  And when I had to walk again 5 minutes later, I accepted that this was how tonight’s run was going to go.  “Just don’t quit,” I told myself.  “You can do it, just a minute more.”  “You’re doing your best.”

And that kindness I showed myself, for a person like me who beats up on herself regularly, is some kind of prize.

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7 thoughts on “Give Me a Break

  1. I think this was the realization that eluded me all those other times I attempted to run and failed. I came to it at about the same point in my journey as you are coming to it. it makes a world of difference.

    Sometimes my legs get tired, sometimes I feel terrible, other times I just get bored or tired of running. It happens. I walk. In fact, during this training, I’ve MADE myself take wall breaks on long runs

  2. (my phone totally jacked that up)

    …as I was saying, I make myself take walk breaks sometimes because I know that I can endure farther runs that way.

    It’s all about what makes running more enjoyable for you, and I am SO GLAD that you’re doing to great with it! I can’t wait to hear about how your first race goes!

  3. Excellent! I love this.

    For GL’s 50 mile and 100 mile races, do you know what the prize is? A belt buckle. A really, really, really ugly belt buckle. Just to keep things in perspective.

  4. Lydia, thanks so much for the encouragement. You’ve been such a great support through all of this.

    Beth. then WHY does he do it? Oh, right. The eating pizza while running. Got it.

  5. When I used to run…and I think about starting again just about daily…I used to say to my running partner when we were out on the course of a 5K or a 10K or whatever…and we were feeling miserable…”and to think we PAID for this!” And you are so right..there is no rule that says you have to run it all (you are less likely to injure yourself, or give up on the sport entirely if you take walk breaks). And you are also right that different training runs and/or races will feel different, and you don’t know how it’s going to be until you’re doing it. So you were successful when you allowed yourself to feel good about your run even if it didn’t go exactly the way you thought it might. It went exactly the way it was supposed to..and that’s more than good enough. Congratulations on being out there. 97% of Americans (or more) are on the couch. You’re already way ahead of them. And me. 🙂

  6. PS: the issue on this particular run might have been that you didn’t rest enough or hydrate enough the day before…or didn’t eat right the day before…all of those can make a big difference in how your run goes.

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