Getting Out of My Own Head

Today at the end of yoga, my instructor (who is also one of my close friends), shared that she has been making a point to meditate twice a day.  I cannot meditate and have a love/hate relationship with Shavasana.  I am usually unable to truly shut down and spend the time going over my to-do list or, more often, reliving my failures in my head.  Sometimes, I even dig into the archives to fret over things that happened years ago.  My awesome yoga squad loves Shavasana.  One friend often falls asleep.  I know that we are all working with our demons and fears and greatly admire her ability to zone out and rest the mind, if only for a few minutes.

On Saturdays, I leave yoga, pick up my son, and head to the local gym.  Liam plays in their open gym while I take an Obstacle Skills class.   This class is incredibly humbling.  I may not be tiny, but I am surprisingly strong.  This is the first class I’ve even taken in which I am the worst participant.  This is not a one-time coincidence.  I am terrible at this class.  It begins with a half-mile run to a local pond.  I am the slowest runner.  On the beach, we do a series of exercises using our body weight, such as crab walks, burpees, army crawls, and caterpillar walks.  This workout is amazing!  It takes a lot for me to feel a class after; this one leaves me sore for days.  It may sound weird, but I love being sweaty and covered in dirt after class.  It lets me know that I really challenged myself, that I accomplished something I couldn’t previously do.

Here’s the problem: I work myself up over this class.  When I go, I am the biggest, weakest, and slowest.  I feel like I am holding the others back.  (Maybe they love when I attend because they get so many breaks while waiting for me to finish the rounds.) During class, my heart pounds and I sweat (more than usual.)  Last class, I was so worked up that I had to walk instead of run halfway back.

I picked up Liam and headed to the gym.  I spent a minute updating my account with the front desk. When I went to go to the other room to take the class, I panicked when I saw the other people attending the class.  They were in much better shape than I am.  I made an excuse about trying to update my account and skipped out.  Liam was in the middle of his class for the next hour, so I had to pretend that I couldn’t reset my account.

I let my own self-doubt get in the way of reaching my goals.  My punishment was having to sit int he gym, watching Liam and submersing myself in my doubts and thoughts.  The worst part of all this is that the class stayed at the gym, completing a weight-based workout instead of the usual run to the pond.

I need to remind myself how far I’ve come.  In a few months, I’ve gone from someone who couldn’t run a single block to someone who can run three miles straight. Through the years, I have grown into someone who can do headstands, camel pose, and dead-left 155 pounds.  I can’t let fear get in the way of future successes.

Guess What I Did?

I ran for three miles… in a row!

The last time I ran the 5k fun run, I kept my goal time but had to stop and walk twice, even if only for a minute.  During Sunday’s solo run, I ran a mile straight, stopping to take pictures halfway.    For this run, I decided that I would try my best not to slow down during my run, even if it meant going slower.

One of my favorite parts of this journey are the people I’ve met who have supported me throughout my running adventures.  Running with friends makes it much more enjoyable.  I’ve enjoyed celebrating successes, sharing stories, and pushing each other.  There have been days that I did not at all feel like running.  Because I knew I had friends waiting for me, I went.  Sometimes, I was glad when I got there.  Other times, I pushed through.

After the Gaspee Days 5k, I was happy that I only stopped to walk twice and met my goal time.  Never did I think I would be running that distance without stopping!

Venturing Out on My Own

I have not been running as much as I’d like.  Liam and I are working on a bike-riding/ running team up.  He and I have been attending classes at the same studio.  He takes “ninja skills” while I take adult strength based classes.  Sunday, after a weekend of camping and indulging in s’mores and grilled meat, I went for a quick run near my house.  I am thankful for so many beautiful paths nearby.  This may become my favorite place to run.  For my solo adventures, I’ve been running around my neighborhood.  This path is about ten minutes from my house and worth the trip.  Another reason I like it is that it is open and safe.  It is usually populated without being crowded.  I am still trying to find my groove when it comes to running solo. I am happy that I ventured out and tried a new place.  I’d like to make this a habit.

My running club is offering their free monthly 5k tonight. I haven’t run that far in a few weeks.  I am curious to see if I am still able to keep my time under 40 minutes.  (This is why I am only an okay runner.)  It is not going to be as hot as it was last week so I won’t have weather working against me. I need to keep reminding myself that I am stronger than I was when I started.  I am thankful to have a group of people who keep me accountable and supported.  My goal is to be able to complete a 5k in 35 minutes.  I know I will get there.

I Did It (Kinda)

I left Resilience class and raced to Providence for Running Club.  I still giggle that they call this an “Easy Run.”  For me, no run is easy.  I know I will get there; I’m just not there yet.

Usually, there is a post on our Facebook group inquiring about who is coming to the run.  There was no post today.  When I arrived (a few minutes late thanks to rush-hour traffic), I recognized no one.  They were just about to start the warm-up stretches.  I wanted to leave.  It took everything in my power not to leave.  I was in a  group with the “real runners.”  Just as I was about the sneak out, I spotted two of the BRG pacers.  Both greeted me with hugs and kisses.  I confessed that I panicked when I didn’t recognize anyone and almost snuck out.  They promised to keep with me.  One of the pacers is recovering an injury and just received to okay to run again.  She is doing one-minute walk/run intervals.  I offered to join her, ignoring her concern that I would be held back. This was far from the case.

Last evening, it was 94 degrees.  It was humid.  Our run began at the bottom of a monstrous hill.  I had run twice in the past two weeks.  I have never run in heat like that.  But I ran! (Well, I walked/ran.)  I didn’t want to.  I was nervous and embarrassed and scared.  I wasn’t fast, but I did it!  Each time I face a fear and step outside of my comfort zone, I become stronger.

Confession Time

While training with the Beginners Running Group (BRG), I was running three times a week.  I also took two yoga classes weekly.  The first thing I noticed is that I was much tighter once I started running.  Poses that I was able to do became strained and sometimes impossible.  After ten years of practicing, I enjoy that I am finding ways to challenge myself.

A few weeks ago, I began taking classes at my son’s gym.  He takes “ninja skills” class at an obstacle course gym.  I’ve always wanted to try one of those obstacle course races.  None of my friends are interested and I didn’t want to do it alone.  After talking to a woman who works at the gym, I decided to sign up for classes myself and sign up for an obstacle course race.   Through the years, I’ve taken various aerobic and weight classes.  I’ve even taken Insanity classes.  The classes at this gym are very different from the classes I have been taking.  I’ve enjoyed feeling sore in areas that hadn’t been challenged in the past.

I’ve been taking these weight classes two to three times a week as well as adding a third yoga class.  I went on vacation two weeks ago and have been enjoying summer vacation with my son.  Our wedding anniversary was last week.  Although my husband said I could attend running club, I would never dream of doing such a thing.  In the past two weeks, I have only run twice.  One was a three-mile run while on vacation.  The other was just under two miles in excessive heat.  I could not get myself going until noon.  I paid for that.  I am going to a resilience class this afternoon and heading to running club from there.   It is currently 90 degrees with a heat index making it feel like 99.  I haven’t faced the giant hills of the running club path in three weeks.  Today will not be good.  But I can going to do it, even if I am slower than I was the last time around.  A setback and slip doesn’t meet that you’re done.

Why Am I Here?

For most of my adult life, I have been fascinated with the idea of running.  People make it look so easy and enjoyable.  You can do it anywhere.  It’s supposed to help clear your mind and become more focused.  Before my wedding, I began running on a treadmill at the gym.  I got to a point in which I could run at a slow pace for a few minutes.  I signed up for a 5K and completed with at an okay time.

First 5K (April 2008)
Running outside was an entirely different story.  A friend of mine asked me to go for a run at the local city park.  I was able to jog three miles on the treadmill; running in the park should be easy.  Holy cow!  I was wrong!  Running outside was terrible!  I could not do it!  Worst of all, I hated it.  After three meetups, I stopped attempting to run outside.

My goal was to run a ten-minute mile, the same time I was required a achieve in the dreaded physical fitness tests at school.  I ran a ten-minute mile once.  After that, I stopped running.  My wedding dress fit.  I had reached my goal.  What more was there for me to do?

Fast forward a few years.  I gave birth to a son and became focused on the new part of my life.  When he turned three, I was still fifteen pounds heavier than I was before I got pregnant.  I decided to lose the baby weight.  Because of daycare, going to the gym was out.  I work full time and didn’t want to spend my evenings at the gym while my husband watched our son.  I joined SparkPeople and convinced my husband to buy a treadmill for the basement.  I watched everything I ate, keeping my caloric intake to about 1200 calories a day.  I jogged on the treadmill 3-4 times a week.  I lost the weight, even getting a few pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight.  However, it just wasn’t sustainable.  My thyroid went out of whack again.  This juxtaposed with the impossibility of counting snacks of goldfish crackers caused the weight to creep back up.  I was mortified.  I worked so hard to lose it and had a closet full of smaller sized clothes to show for it.  Now, I was back where I started.

Three years later, I decided to try it again.  I bought a Group for yoga classes at a local studio.  There, I found my crew.  We laughed and pushed each other.  We celebrated successes, understood each other’s weaknesses, and pushed each other to become better versions of ourselves.  I still fluctuated.  I still struggle to balance between trying all the gourmet donuts and pretending to enjoy greens mixed into smoothies.  My friends have taught me that it is okay to walk that line.

It has been a journey filled with ups and downs.  But it is my journey.  Would I do things differently? Absolutely.  Am I glad to have the struggles to appreciate where I am?  Even more so.

So why am I here?  I have been itching to write for awhile.  I’d like to document my journey into running and getting stronger.  I’d like to remind myself to step out of my comfort zones.  I’d like to be a role model to my son, who is taking ninja skills classes, becoming stronger and learning to fine art of struggle and perseverance.