Friday, September 6, 2013

What It's All About

I think I'm officially done with injury (touch wood). Yes, the whole situation was frustrating and uncomfortable. And I lost a lot of sleep trying to get comfortable at night, during a time of high stress where sleep was needed. But, it's done. I couldn't be more thrilled!

Returning from injury has been a great experience, for more than the obvious reasons of getting back to activities I enjoy and getting back on track with training routine. Prior to injury, I was stuck in a rut with my training. I was getting frustrated with my lack of endurance in the time I was struggling with low iron. I was dreading my long runs. I was daunted by the thought of the marathon and whether it was realistic. It was the day after I decided I was dropping from the marathon to the half marathon in Victoria that injury hit. I recall my reaction to this as frustration as I decided something consciously, to slow down and take a break, before my body had to send me the very obvious "time to slow down" message of an injury. This message wasn't needed as I was planning a break anyway.

My first run back, I realized why getting injured was fortuitous, somehow. If I had taken a break from running and simply resumed a week or two later, I'd probably still return with a bit of a poor attitude, still discouraged and sad that I had to let this marathon go. I'd probably be inclined to slack off in my training while feeling like I need to push myself all at the same time. I'd think about what distance I need to cover to maintain my endurance to be OK for the 3 half marathons I'm doing this fall and somehow be disappointed in myself for it not being anything close to the mileage I was pulling before. But because I was injured and forced to stop completely for 3 weeks combined (2 weeks at first, and another week later), I came back hungry. I came back craving a run, needing to run, absolutely desperate to run again. I am not me without the run. I had to get it back.

No matter how slow I was moving that first 6km back, it didn't matter. I didn't even put the Garmin on. I didn't look at the clock when I left home or when I got back. It was one of the best 6km runs in a long time for that reason. It wasn't about accomplishing a training goal, but just to feel how amazing it was to move again, to feel strong, to propel forward, breath and sweat heavily, and watch the pavement move rapidly under my feet. It was a run for the sake of the run. I did experience some discomfort this first run back so I kept it short at 6km, and planned a 12km for my next outing. This one was flawless - good pace and zero pain. And I think I was probably smiling the entire time! It was nothing even close to what a long run would be if I was still training for the marathon. But somehow it was the most satisfying run I had experienced in a long time. I was out alone for much of the run, out on some trails in Stanley Park and a rainy seawall. I felt truly alive. I felt I conquered something extremely important. I was reminded of the sheer joy of running and how amazing it feels to be healthy and capable of running long when a few years ago, such an activity was an impossibility.

And that's what it's about. Yes, I will do another marathon and soon (I have an idea for what that'll be), and many more after that I'm sure. But until then, my goals to improve my performance at shorter distance races are respectable goal. My most important goal of it all is not at all a specific running goal. It is to not lose sight of the most important; I cannot forget of what it's all about and has been about all along - my health and my happiness.

This week has been amazing too, and another reminder of that same lesson. I not only am back again after a second (and related) bout of injury, and now truly training without pain, but the excitement with the Steve Nash Fitness Clubs contest has increased. I was contacted on Tuesday this week to let me know the launch was rescheduled and is now on Sept 17th (my birthday!) and to schedule an interview and workout filming that happened this morning. On the same day I noted the changes to the web site that showed some of what they did with the photos from the shoot last month, an ad of me running and "going for the gold" appeared on the web site along with my story, and in posters plastered in Steve Nash gyms all over the place - one particularly large one at the entrance to the gym I work out at in North Vancouver. 

To say the least, this has been a really big ego boost and an exciting time for me. I've been sharing this excitement and joy openly with friends, family, and other members of my community via social media, and in general conversation. I've gotten so much positive support and congratulatory remarks. I've had an outpouring over the last few years and even more now of people contacting me in one way or another to say my story has inspired them and their own journey. It has felt really good. It has humbled me. But I had a thought today and a realization, especially after giving the interview this morning and being asked to offer advice and inspiration. I realized for how many years I held myself back, my confidence was silent, and I didn't feel like I had a voice. Now I realize I have a voice, I have a story, and I'm so eager to let it all out and share.

But I wonder if sometimes me being so open, so candidly excited, so willing to share, if it annoys some. If some don't want to hear my story of success because they struggle. There are some people I'm surprised haven't commented at all to me about the whole thing even though I've mentioned it in person (they somehow changed topics). I guess I expected they might be happy for me too. But then I realized that a lack of reaction doesn't mean they don't care. In fact, if I have annoyed them, that shows they do care - they just haven't been able to turn that reaction into something positive. I don't feel I share in a way that shows off. I am conscious of maintaining my humility. My motive is not attention or compliments. I share to simply share. I share because I believe our world needs more happy stories. I share because a smile can be contagious. I believe a story of success, no matter what type of success it is, is worth sharing. I'm not responsible for the reaction others have. If anyone can understand feeling frustrated with a health struggle, it is me. I know when I was the former version of myself, I too had a poor attitude toward those who succeeded somehow when I couldn't. I probably reacted in less than positive ways when they told me about all the great things they were doing that I simply wasn't or had no perceived hope of doing.

My goal for sharing is this - this is what's it's all about: to be an example of how realizing a goal, no matter how big, is possible. Anyone can change their life. All we need to do is lose our fear and it certainly doesn't hurt to dream a little. We can't let positive stories of success annoy or brew negativity. Instead we must allow them to be a reminder of what our own story could be if we'd only pick up the pen and start to write it, not letting go of that dream that started it all.

I'm afraid I don't know the source of this quote as a friend posted it up on online as not her own words (I will edit this post when I find out who to credit).  But anyway, I feel it sums up so beautifully my perspective:

"Far too many people are fearful of the unknown, comfy with putting in the least amount of effort, and not willing to put up with short-term pain for long-term gain. Don’t be one of them – you know better than that. You know that growth and progress require discomfort. Every time you stretch your emotional, intellectual, and physical muscle groups, discomfort arises just before progress is made.

In all walks of life, by committing to continuous, small uncomfortable steps forward, you are able to sidestep the biggest barrier to positive change: Fear.

Also, remember that growth begins at the end of your comfort zone. Not only is it important to accept the discomfort of taking steps forward, it is also necessary to let go of comfortable routines and situations from the past. Holding on to the way things were, prevents you from growing into who you are now, and who you are capable of being."

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