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.