I signed my family up to do a 5K obstacle course race in the fall. Well, my husband, myself and the two older kids. We are doing it for my son's 14th birthday. It is fun to have a family fitness goal to work towards together and it motivates me to get back to running which I love and clears my mind, but I had to stop for awhile after I hurt my knee in the Spring.
I was playing two-square with my son in the backyard and my foot caught the pavement and my knee popped audibly. It was the same knee I have injured twice before, once running my first Spartan race and again doing front handsprings at the park with my kids. I may feel like I am still a teenager at times when I am playing and having fun with my kids, but my knees certainly remind me of my age.
Anyway, I had just started personal training part time at the nearby gym and so it was a bit of a challenge for me having the setback with the hurt knee. I had to modify everything I was doing, including discontinuing my own weightlifting which I had just gotten back into to instead work on a rehab program for my knee.
Well, many months later after I had worked my way through bodyweight squats and lunges back up to lifting with some weight again and feeling like my knee was mostly healed, I decided I wanted to try running again. I ran 1 mile on the treadmill at work at a very slow pace.
Then a couple weeks ago my son and I went for a short 2 mile loop around the neighborhood, again, at a very slow pace and I was extra careful to land softly to protect my knees. My calves were killing me for the next 4 days, but my knee felt great!
This morning I needed to clear my head and exercise is how I prefer to work through a foggy mind. Yoga, running, lifting heavy, or HIIT training are all great ways for me to do this and work through problems in my head. Today a run sounded like the perfect solution so I headed out. And it was especially helpful that my Map My Run app for some reason had my goal set for 3.1 miles - a 5K distance. So I said, okay sure, why not? and decided to go for the 5K since I am needing to train up for the one I signed up for in the Fall.
I have been struggling and feeling a bit discouraged this week with slow progress in my fitness and slow progress here on the site. It is easy to get caught up in my head and beat myself up for the progress I don't see. But as I was reminded while on my run, life isn't so much about the finish line, but about the journey to get there.
Due to an unexpected setback my run time for a 5K was much slower than it used to be. In mile 2 I started to feel some pain in my other knee, most likely due to having to overcompensate for the weaker side, and also to control my downhill speed. I was tempted to be discouraged and simply quit. I was tempted to not listen to my body and just push through the pain, but instead I thought about what I would tell one of my clients. Discomfort is okay, but pain is a warning we should listen to and not just push through. I slowed down to a walk to work the knee out and reset my running form before picking it back up again. My knee then felt much better and I was able to finish my run at a decent pace.
While discomfort is okay and actually a good thing in fitness and life in general - we only grow when we push ourselves beyond our current abilities - pain is a signal from our bodies that something is not right and we need to make a change. It can be something as simple as poor mechanics or improper form, or an indication of a weakness or injury that needs addressing or just a warning that we are pushing ourselves too fast too soon.
These painful setbacks are just a part of life as much as we would like to not have them. This journey is hard and at times can be downright frustrating. We can be tempted to quit and we can be tempted to push through the pain and not listen to ourselves. It is also far to easy for us to fixate on what isn't or what we can't do instead of focusing on what we did accomplish and what we are learning and being grateful for the journey and proud of our progress, regardless of how small the steps we are taking or how slow.
I am guilty of this a lot. I am my own worst critic and I have a bad habit of comparing myself today with my past self. But I am not the same me I was in the past and while in some areas I feel like I have regressed, there have been so many others where I have grown.
In fact this week I had two very exciting milestones in my own fitness journey that I felt really proud of. I finally was able to do an L-sit on my yoga blocks that I have been working towards since a couple months after my last baby was born. She is 18 months old.
And today I ran a 5K for the first time in 2 years. It was about a minute slower per mile, but I completed it. I also honored my body by listening when it gave me cues that I was pushing it too hard.
But because I am not as far along as I would like to be, it was easy for me to gloss over them and not want to share them. It is easy for me to want to hide and wait to share what I am doing or working on until I have accomplished the goal.
There are parts of my fitness journey that I find really fun and challenging, but I only want to work on when no one is around to see because I am embarrassed that I am not very good yet. But,
just because you aren't good at something yet doesn't mean you won't benefit from doing it. Even if you have to slow down or modify until you are stronger, more flexible, or have had more practice.
So often online we only get to see pictures and videos of peoples successes. Edited and photoshopped and presentable. There has been a big shift towards live sharing and it is so much more encouraging and authentic. So I just wanted to reach out and say you are doing awesome wherever you are. Have fun with your journey. Share your progress, share your struggles, and celebrate right where you are. Keep stepping even if they are baby steps because even slow progress is progress and the blessing is in the journey.