A little more than two years ago, I made an appearance on the Jennifer Fulwiler Show. This was back in the day when everyone was making cute SnapChat stories, and I had been documenting my run streak as I re-did the Couch to 5K program. During that streak, I ran for 60 days in a row (at least one mile of running) and went on to complete the 5K to 10K training program. I was in the best shape of my life!
Then in June 2017, I got a job waiting tables to help put some extra money in our family budget, pay off some debts, and buy a new roof for our home. Running took a back seat, and I haven’t been as consistent since that first shift. My fitness has definitely suffered in the last two years, and I’ve put weight on as a result of eating as if I’m running 5 or 6 days each week while I’m actually making it out for 3 or, if I’m lucky, 4 runs each week.
I decided last September that I’d start C25K once again, always using it as a refresher in the past to work on endurance and pace. But this time, the time and weight were working against me. Since September, I have restarted the program three times, never quite getting through (or even up to) week 7, when I would need to run for 25 minutes without stopping. The last time it happened, I went all the way back to the beginning, and when I got to these longer runs without walking intervals, I decided I would try something different.
I lowered the bar.
Yup, I lowered my standards. I set the treadmill for .5% incline at the most, kept my pace at a measly 5 MPH, and finally broke through. This week, I’m going to finish week 9 again, when I’ll run for 30 minutes straight. And I’ll keep a slow pace and a low incline.
The lesson here is that progress isn’t a straight line. If I had a friend who was struggling to complete the C25K again, but couldn’t break through because she was two years older and 25 pounds heavier, I would have told her long ago to give herself a break and maybe run slower or something! I mean, a lot changes over two years (especially as you near the end of your 40s), and we can’t necessarily do the same things in the same way as before.
Sometimes, we have to take a step back and re-do a few things along the way because we’re not ready for the next step. And this is okay, too!
I would have easily told my friend to take it easy on herself, but it was something I was reluctant to tell myself. I wanted to still be able to run at a 10:00 pace for a couple of miles, but my body just can’t do that right now. And I needed to tell myself to slow it down and just lower my expectations.
I still have time to work on my pace and endurance. I’m not planning on running that half marathon until October. (Yes, really!) Until then, I’m going to plug away and take it slow. I’ll even back up in my training program and re-do a week or two if I feel like I need to. Because slow progress is still progress, and progress isn’t always a straight line.
What do you need to give yourself permission to believe about yourself?
Copyright 2019 Christine Johnson