Yesterday was such a beautiful fall day, I decided to skip barre and take my workout outside. I had a bruise on my palm that I wanted to baby a bit too (barre has been heavy on planks lately). Monday, John and I went for a walk on the new rail trail in town and it was nice, so I decided that’s where I’d go. It’s not very long (just 3.3 miles roundtrip) but it’s pretty, especially with the changing leaves, and very close to our house. It’s also flat – which is a nice break from all the steep hills in our neighborhood!
I started off walking but when I hit the 1/4 mile marker I decided to do some running intervals, just to take it up a notch. Several years ago, I did a lot of running and at my peak was running 25 miles a week. I loved it but it was way too hard on my body. I ended up with a couple of foot injuries and it was never very comfortable for my knees. I’d take some time off to heal and then try to get back out there and I kept having the same issues – eventually I decided that my body just wasn’t made for running and if I want to be able to stay active, I need to do activities that don’t cause injury regularly. Needless to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve done any running – even short intervals are rare because I’ve been focused on biking, weights and barre this year.
While my intention was to just do some walking/running intervals, I started running at the 1/4 mile mark and kept going until the end of the trail! I ran 1 and 1/4 miles without stopping. I walked about a 1/4 mile again and then I ran another 3/4 of a mile (before finishing the route by walking the rest of the way). So I ran 2 whole miles yesterday!
That may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to me! While I feel like my heart and lungs are strong enough to run (I exercise at high intensity several days a week), I’m certainly not training for any type of distance or endurance and it’s been a long time since I’ve even attempted to run more than a minute at time. It felt really good!
Today, I’m feeling a bit achy and my hips are stiff (that’s nothing a good stretch can’t fix) but I’m itching to get out there and do it again. Maybe I’m not going to be a regular runner anymore, but I like knowing that I can run a mile or two, once in awhile. I love having variety in my workouts.
I used to see the fact that I couldn’t run daily anymore as a reason to not do it at all – but yesterday’s impromptu run was a good reminder that I can throw out absolutes and rules I make for myself, and instead focus on what the body wants/needs at any given moment. I can enjoy the occasional short run, even if I’m not able do it several days a week. I’m the one who decides this stuff.
There’s nothing boxing me in to either side. I don’t have to choose running all the time or not running at all. I can find a middle ground that works for me (even if that means it’s only 3 times a year). I can be a “sometimes” runner if that’s what I want.
This is something I always need to work on. I often have an all or nothing mindset. I usually won’t do something unless I know I can do it perfectly, or at least really really well. I get incredibly uncomfortable diving into things for the first time. Over the years, there were countless diet attempts that I failed on and then gave up entirely because I couldn’t do it exactly as I was supposed to. If I had one emotional eating episode after two weeks of none, I saw it as a reason to just give up and binge constantly. I’d skip exercising if I couldn’t get a whole hour in. I’m the type of person who can’t enjoy a movie if I miss the first few minutes of it. And if I start a book, you better believe I’m going to finish it, even if it’s boring me to death and takes me a year to get through. All or nothing. No inbetween.
But life doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We’re not stuck obeying the rules we set for ourselves forever. I can be a sometimes runner. I can eat well most of the time. I can enjoy a cocktail and a dessert sometimes. I can exercise when I can. I can put the book that bores me back on the shelf (and pick up one that doesn’t!). I can take a week to respond to email or not respond at all (the horror!). I’m the boss of me.
Just as I’ve been practicing listening to my body more – paying attention to those hunger & satisfaction cues, knowing when I need to rest, knowing when I can push it harder, I have to listen to my soul more. If my soul doesn’t dig a certain book, who gives a shit? Who is keeping count? If my soul wants to dabble in an activity once in awhile, why not?
I don’t have to label or limit myself. You don’t have to label or limit yourself either. You don’t have to be a healthy eater or someone who enjoys cake. You can be both or neither. You are you. I am me. All of the time. Whatever that looks like.