One of the things that I think is most important in my weight loss journey is my self-integrity. That means something different for everyone. But one of the biggest things I have learned along the way is that if I am not keeping the promises I make to myself in order to reach my goals, it becomes easier and easier to do just that: not keep my promises.
If I tell myself that I’ll be in the gym doing cardio 5x this week and I only get in there 4x, and then next week I do the same thing, for whatever reason – life got in the way, something came up, there were other more pressing things I had to do – it makes it easier and easier to not keep that promise to myself and to justify only getting 4 days in each week instead of 5.
I’m not saying that 4 days isn’t better than none, or even better than 3, but if it’s not those 5 days I promised myself and I keep doing it over and over, before I know it, it might be 3 days instead of 4 or 2 days instead of three.
I made a mistake. I miscounted.
Somewhere in the midst of things this last year, some of my numbers in accounting for the number of half marathons that I have run got off. After reviewing the numbers repeatedly, I know they were correct leading up to my Marathon of Half Marathons and leading into Jeff moving here last June, but somewhere after that, somehow I counted a half marathon I didn’t actually run.
There is no telling why I made the mistake. But here is what I do know: each time I complete a half marathon, I put it on the books as done. Each one of them is leading to goals I have. For example right now my goal is to be at 39 half marathons by the time I leave for the Tinker Bell half marathon next month so that event ends up being my 40th.
You might ask why I set that goal?
It makes sense really, at least to my brain. I turned 40 this year. The Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland is my favorite half marathon each year. It is really the half marathon that started this obsession with me. I know going into it this year that for financial reasons, the likelihood of me running it again next year is slim, and so this year, what will be likely be my 4th and final year of running it, needs to be special to me.
That and I am a numbers girl. I get a little obsessed on them. So doing a special half marathon for the 4th time the year that I turned 40 and it being my 40th half marathon all has a significance to me that means something to me. That’s the most important thing about a goal you set, that it is important enough to you that you are intrinsically motivated to do it.
To some people, this might sound crazy. Trust me I know. Some people have told me, “Who cares that I miscounted? Who cares that I have run 37 instead of 38 half marathons?” The significance in that number really isn’t important to anyone but me. Right? I’m running with an injury that is slowing me down on a regular basis, making these events harder and harder for me and making it so that it takes me longer and longer to recover from running that sort of distance. I really should be taking a break and letting that achilles tendonitis heal and pushing it to get another half marathon on the books to make up for my miscounting error before I leave next month is crazy, unnecessary and stupid. Right?
Maybe I am crazy.
Maybe that is all correct. Here is the most important thing in all that outside input that I didn’t really welcome or ask for: the significance in that number really isn’t important to anyone but me. And ME is the person that is the most significant when it comes to keeping the promises I make to myself, reaching my goals and feeling good about them when I get there.
So with all that said, yesterday, I set out to make up for that missing half marathon. I did it to set my numbers straight, find that mathematical accountability that my brain has learned to find comfort in, and to get my goals back in line for what I want to achieve next month.
Currently I’m a little out of shape when it comes to running. My ankles are screaming at me, and I took a few weeks off of running after my last running event in February to try to let them heal. In fact, as hard as it was for me to do, I took three weeks off of exercise in general to give my body a true break. When you take that kind of time off you start losing your fitness and endurance levels, as a result I’m a little slower than I would like to be now.
When I sat out to run that 13.1 miles yesterday I wasn’t even sure I could do it. There was a little negative voice in the back of my head that kept telling me maybe I wasn’t ready, maybe I was going to hurt too bad the next day if I tried to do it. Maybe I would only get to mile 11 or 12 and then hit a wall and fail. After all, on my last long run I jumped from 4 miles to 9 miles and I struggled to make it.
I had to combat those negative voices in my head.
But part of me also knew that those negative voices I was hearing and that self-doubt that I was experiencing was coming from the fact that other people were telling me these things, not because I felt them myself. I started to combat those negative voices with positive reinforcements of my goal. I know I can do this if I am willing to slow down and not push too hard. I know I can do this if I take my time and just enjoy it, rather than worrying about how fast I go or how long it takes me to get it done.
I needed to prove myself, and not just because somewhere deep inside me I needed to correct those numbers and get them back where I wanted them to be to meet my goals, but because I had to prove to myself over the negative voices so loudly playing in my mind that I could indeed do it.
And so I did. I walked out the door with the intention of spending some time with my Dad. Ignoring my speed or my mile per minute time and instead going back to what running was for me before all of that started being important: I set out to have fun. I set out to enjoy the music, enjoy the scenery, spend some time with my father, run off my emotions and maybe just maybe in the process find me again. Because lately I’ve felt that somewhere along the way in the last year of life in general, I lost a little bit of the focus on me and my goals while being more wrapped up in helping everyone else meet theirs.
I needed a little me time.
It’s been awhile since I took that in the form of running, just like I learned to do in the beginning of my journey, to deal with my emotions and work things out in my mind.
First I told myself I would run 10 miles, just increasing my long run by a mile from last time. Then I played with numbers in my head while I ran and convinced myself that I’d run 6.2 miles with my Dad and 6.2 miles with myself, when you turn those numbers around that’s two sets of 26, and that number has significance in my world, 1926 was the year my father was born.
I told myself I only had to make it to 12.4 and from there if I wanted to I would stop. But in my heart I knew that if I could make it to 12.4 I could make it to 13.1. I just needed to look at it as small goals in my mind to make it less tedious and intimidating while I was out there.
I ran through my neighborhood. I ran through the local cemetery and I watched for headstones from people who were born the same year my father was, and I took time to stop and pause my watch and say hello to them. I spent some time listening to my father’s music, having conversations with him about everything going on in my life right now and listening for some answers.
I went slow. I took it easy. When my Fitbit died and I took my phone out and started using that to track my distance to make sure I got it all in. And over three hours later, I had my true half marathon number 38 on the books. Guess what else I had? My self integrity. The fact that I had fixed my mistake and that my claim to 38 half marathons, though miscalculated as to time and place was accurate in numbers and accomplishments.
I felt better. I felt a lot better. The time alone running with my thoughts, helped me find clarity and direction and helped me answer some of the questions that were weighing so heavily on my mind.
And so I completed my Me-A-Thon.
Yup, I’m calling this half marathon #38 redux, my official 2017 Half ME-a-thon. Because truthfully it was something I needed to do for myself. Something I needed deep inside me for bunch of reasons nobody but me might understand.
At the end of the day, guess what, it’s okay if nobody but me understands it. Because my weight loss journey, my fitness journey, my emotional journey is about me first and foremost. While that might seem greedy and that might seem selfish, the truth is, that if when I first decided to walk this journey I decided that was the only way I was going to be successful at it. If I made sure that I was doing it for the right reasons, that I was doing it for myself.
Yesterday I needed to remind myself that it was about me. That it was about my goals and my journey and about what I needed deep inside me to feel right with the world and feel like I had kept my fitness promises to myself. I needed to get myself back on track with myself, and not to anyone else’s time, speed or standards but to my own.
Maybe that wasn’t important to anyone but me. Maybe it was unnecessary and stupid. Maybe I was slow and had an awful finishing time – but I enjoyed every moment of it. When it was over I felt empowered by something intrinsically that I hadn’t felt empowered by in a very long time. Just doing it for myself. Focusing on myself. Being with myself.
And that is exactly want I needed.
So happy miscounted 38th half marathon to me. I ran a Half Me-A-Thon yesterday and while my ankles are a little sore today and my body is a little wounded, my self integrity, self-confidence and self efficacy in my goals is back on track and my pride in myself is unwounded and that is neither silly, unnecessary or stupid.
Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and a Certified Personal Trainer.
I keep an exercise journal, especially when I am training for a new adventure. Eleven weeks ago, just after my thirty-ninth birthday I jumped back into a vigorous training schedule for one of the biggest physical challenges I have taken on.
On August 30th after a summer hiatus to allow my knee some time to heal I reentered the training program that Olympic runner Jeff Galloway designed for folks talking on the runDisney Dopey Challenge. The Dopey Challenge is a four-day running event that takes place at Walt Disney World where you run a 5k (3.1 Miles) on Thursday, a 10k (6.2 Miles) o Friday, a half marathon (13.1 Miles) on Saturday and a full marathon (26.2 Miles) on Sunday for a grand total of 48.6 Miles over the four-day event.
Some people would say that you had to be Dopey to take on a challenge like this. I’ll reserve my opinion on that for the blog I write after I complete it and let you know what I think then.
Since I’d kept my cardio endurance levels up through the summer by spending time on an elliptical and riding a bike jumping back into that training program on at the end of August with a 9 Mile run was surprisingly easy for me. I made a few rookie running mistakes, like forgetting sunblock and not eating before I left. Silly things that an experienced runner and fitness instructor like myself should know better than to do. But when you get out of practice and out of your routine it’s easy to forget some of the little things.
Back to the point…my exercise journal from that first day
“9 Miles, 15k, First long run of the season. Knee OK. Lots of newbie mistakes though!”
My mileage has just kept going up from there. There have been a few entries where you could tell that I was struggling.
“Having a hard time not doing cardio on OFF days but sticking to the plan. Glad I have my classes to keep me distracted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays that I’m not doing runs.” 9/02
“Took the day of since my heels are still so hurting so bad. Figure today’s 45 min run isn’t worth jeopardizing this weekends 15 Mile run with soreness or additional blisters. Hopefully a good choice.” 10/01
“The stress of trying to figure out what I am going to do about the Dopey Challenge is really starting to get to me. I’m not sure that A) I can even afford to go to Disney World for as long as I need to do this event or B) That my body can handle it.” 10/05
About this time I saw a Podiatrist and started a routine that would help alleviate the pain I was experiencing in my ankles. I made the decision to stop trying to do all the exercises with my classes while training for this very challenging event. I decided that instead of trying to do everything and feeling like I wasn’t doing anything well, I’d start focusing on just trying to make sure that my training schedule became the most important part of my fitness routine.
I started making sure I designed classes for my students that didn’t require me to do all the exercises with them while still making sure that they got a challenging enough workout.
I also start taking my interval times down as my mileage started going up. I was so sore and had such a hard time recovering from the 9 Minutes / 1 Minutes that I started going back down to my old fall back of 4 Minutes / 1 Minute — then I started playing with 3 Minutes / 1 Minutes and finally 2 Minutes / 1 Minute.
I ran my 17 Mile run in Raleigh, NC at the Bull City Race Fest putting in 4 Miles before the start, running 3 Miles with my one of my best friends, Jeff Newell from Defying Obesity running 2 Minutes and walking 1 Minute and was amazed when I got to the finish line and didn’t feel like I was going to pass out! I even came home with some steam left in me!
I love being able to go back and look at my journal entries and see how much the changes affected by performance and my state of mind.
“My 45 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday seem to be getting easier! Maybe because I’m not killing myself everyday and giving my body more time to rest and recover than I was.” 10/26
“Ran 10 Miles with Ronda instead of my 6 today. Happy Halloween to me! We were fast! Finished just before dark.” 10/31
Just a couple of weeks ago I completed my longest run to date of 20 Miles. My friend Ronda ran the first 13.1 Miles with me and once again I surprised myself. When I had finished the 20 Miles I found myself thinking “I could run another 6.2 Miles and do a Marathon, if there was a medal waiting for me.” Once again, I didn’t feel like I was going to die or that I had pushed my body farther than it could go.
Keeping an exercise journal helps me feel accomplished. It helps me stay on track, helps me keep up with my training schedule and helps me hold myself accountable for the training that I need to do in order to make sure that my body is capable of the task that I am challenging it to do.
But it also helps me look back and see what I am doing right and how the changes I make either positively or negatively impact my training.
My blog has worked the same way. There are a lot of days when I go back and read a blog post about what I was doing in the gym way back when and it makes me smile and feel so accomplished when I compare it to what I can do now.
No matter where you are in your weight loss journey I recommend keeping an exercise journal. Jot down what you’re doing and how it is making you feel and hold on to it. Sometimes just going back and reviewing it can help provide the incentive and motivation you need to get back on track or get that workout that you’re debating in for the day.