Gasping, shuffling, puffing and looking at my watch to see that only a few seconds had passed since I had last checked, I kept jogging badly until the one minute mark hit. Walking with a slight limp, I gratefully hoarded air into my lungs and cringed when I saw that I only had three minutes left to walk before my next minute of jogging.
These were the first few weeks, that felt like years, of my foray into the world of jogging. I had made the commitment to “run” in a 5km in September and I had only four months to prepare. The snow had just cleared off of the road and I pushed myself out the door, mentally kicking and screaming. Pain and fatigue had pushed me into such a tight corner that I desperately fought back by training for a run. Never, ever in my life had I imagined myself in such a spot.
The Couch to 5K program typically takes 9 weeks to complete. I took all four months. I still have a week left in the “program” before I technically complete it. I have nine days until I run the race.
I didn’t realize how mental the game of running is until I came to a point where the program pushed me to run eight minutes. I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it. Then again, I thought to myself, I had just run five minutes consecutively a few days before. Eight minutes were not even double that so I think I can do this. My brain changed during that run. When I wanted to quit, I told myself “I can do this …it’s only 3 minutes more”. As I ran, I avoided looking at the time. When I finally did, I realized that I had already done five minutes. Surely I could do three more! I dragged my feet on the ground, hardly able to lift them, but lift them I did. After that, it got easier to convince myself that I could do it! It was a miracle, really. If I couldn’t do the full-time I just kept trying, week after week, until my body said “YES!!”
With Fibro/Chronic Fatigue/arthritis, I couldn’t do it some days even if my mind was saying I wanted to. There were a few days I just couldn’t. I decided that even if I just walked or got out a bit, that was better than nothing. If I really couldn’t even get out of the door I let myself off for the day and knew I’d get back at it when I could. I let myself go from the guilt I usually place on myself when I “fail”. I determined that God was at work and I would be a willing vessel, so to speak. I would not quit this time.
The miracle of movement and energy has been overwhelming this summer. As time and training has passed I have been so thankful that my energy levels have gone way up. That’s not to say I don’t have my bad days anymore, but I am able to do much more than I could just six months ago. I feel like I have a long way to go, but looking back it’s been a hike already.
I have had incredible support throughout this summer with my attempts at running. My dear man, bless his heart, thought that I should do something besides running when I told him what I was going to do. After seeing me get out the door and make some progress he changed his tune and expressed that he was impressed with how I was coming along. My mom, sweet lady that she is, thought I should do something less dramatic when I told her I was going to do this crazy thing called running. She, as well as my dad, became my biggest encourager as well. The list goes on with the people who have cheered me on and it has kept me going. God works through the words of his people, I tell ya! I don’t know if I have ever felt that kind of support before. I consider many of my friends and family encouraging but in this difficult task I didn’t know I needed the words of support until I had people express them to me.
In a little over a week the official “run” will be over. I have thought about what I will do to keep up the momentum and not fall back on old habits. I only know how easy it is to hibernate and not move at all during the winter months. I have formulated some ideas to keep me going. I may just surprise myself again. You never know.
How about you? What are you going to do to keep moving this winter? I live nowhere near a gym or exercise facility. I never have liked exercising in my home but know I will have to do something. How about you give me some ideas?
Next time, I’m going to give away the secrets I found out that worked to help me be successful in training while living with chronic pain.