I hit the gym today, day 95 of my 365 days of sweat journey. Wasn’t planning on running because I had thrown on shorter shorts (not knee length, capris or yoga pants, as is my norm), and figured running would cause…well, chafing. And, as any girl with thighs that touch will attest, chafing is neither fun nor funny.
So I jumped on the Stairmaster, did 25 minutes (climbed 75 floors), then decided to just hit the treadmill for some more hill climbing/resistance. After I finished the 5 minute warm-up, I thought, what the hell – I might as well try running. If I’m chafing,
shoot me I can always stop and go back to walking with a steep incline.
My plan was to do a 5 minute run /1 minute recovery interval approx 3 to 4 times, depending how I felt. And so it began.
I ran for 5 minutes, walked for 1. Felt good.
Ran for another 5 minutes, walked for 1. Still felt good. Heart rate in the non-danger zone.
So I started my third interval. I got lost in a music video playing on the screen, and when I looked down I saw I was already well past my intended 5…and was in fact just past 8 minutes. Hmpphh. How did that happen? Why hadn’t I dropped dead of a heart attack? Did a quick check-in mentally and physically. Realized I still felt pretty darned good.
So I kept running.
Looked down at 10 minutes; checked my heart rate (all good); so, as the saying goes, I kept calm and I carried on.
At 15 minutes (which is the most I’ve ever run consecutively, EVER, in my life), I checked my heart rate again, expecting the screen to tell me I was officially dead, but… all good. WTF??
So I kept going.
Now I should tell you that my goal, all along, has been to be able to get to a place where I can warm up for about 5 minutes and then just run for a solid 20. This was the dream — the goal that felt so far away, as recently as a few weeks ago.
And now I was on the road to achieving it.
Now I’m actually talking to myself (yes, out loud)… “Only 2 minutes to go. You got this. You’re not even breathing that hard. Keep going. Do this!”
And then I watched the clock as I counted down to 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, then 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
I jumped to the sides, steadied myself on the handrails, looked at the screen and felt this giant flood of emotion. And I still don’t know exactly what it was I felt.
Yes, I was excited. If I could do a cartwheel, I would have. And, it might look like something like this:
But I felt something else too… a jumble of emotions, really.
Pride? Happiness? Joy? Exhaustion???
I think it may have actually been relief. Not as in, “Wow, I’m glad THAT’s over”; rather relief, as in, “You were dead wrong, Nancy. You thought you couldn’t do this. You created a goal that you believed you couldn’t achieve as a means of what??? Self-sabotaging? But it backfired. So there! You could and you did.”
Tears may or may not have welled up in my eyes. I’m pleading the fifth on that one.
I dried the sweat (and possible tears) off my face and made my way over to the weights area to finish up my workout.
All the while though I was having a pretty intense dialogue inside my own head about what had just happened. I alternated between happy and perplexed; doing jumpy-claps one minue (in my head only, of course), and then trying to self-analyze the next. Why has running been such a huge obstacle for me?
I then began to wonder if this accomplishment was that big a deal after all. Maybe I was always capable of doing this (i.e. physically capable), but maybe I had created such a mental blocker that it rendered me incapable.
So, I guess the question on my mind is… is a win a win?
Is the attainment of a giant goal still an achievement, if it wasn’t so much a physical achievement as a mental one?
A friend had made the observation that this was purely mental and that they knew I was capable of running 20 minutes all along. Telling me this so soon after my victory literaly sucked the wind from my sails. It made me feel like my hard-fought win was…well, less than.
The joy and pride and relief I had felt earlier left me, and was replaced by doubt and shame. As if I hadn’t earned the right to feel proud of what I did today on that treadmill.
But then I got angry.
Because regardless of whether my run today was made possible by the physical gains and conditioning I’ve worked so hard for (…and I believe it was), or whether it was the gains I’ve made with respect to mental breakthroughs (…which I believe it also was), what I did today was …a big f&cking deal to me. Huge.
The kind of big deal that warrants a cartwheel, assuming I could do one. One that would finish in a victory pose/landing. Like this:
Oh, and I forgot to mention…there was no chafing! Ho ho!!! That is cause for celebration, and that definitely makes me smile a mile wide!
As another smart woman I adore often says, “Love Yourself”.
UPDATE 04/06/13: Today I hit the gym thinking I would try for that goal I described in the post above: I.e. Just a quick 5 min warm-up and then launch into a 20 min run. I didn’t do it. Instead…I ran for 30 minutes!!! WHAT THE WHAT??? I know, right!!! Ladies and gentlemen…I, Nancy the non-runner, just ran for half an hour. Without stopping. Still grinning so wide. Very proud of me today.