Ten days into the month and I am keeping the pace. This month I will do 6 to 8 miles for my longer runs and 2 miles for my recovery days. There are several routes I will add to my list this month. I like to have a mixture of hills and flat terrain, and I will still include a familiar route that has several rolling hills. Some good things can happen on familiar routes.
On a path I know, like the one with the rolling hills, I can run without thinking about what is coming or which way I should go. I know the general distance I must go and the amount of time that must lapse before I reach my set goal. Although the route is familiar it is still a challenge. I can barely keep my pace while traveling up these steep hills and they seem to never top off quick enough. I used to slow all the way down to a walk at about halfway up a couple of the hills, but now I keep running. It is a slower run as I push my aching thighs to continue, and I will take that for now.
Maneuvering this route, a couple of times a month has created a few fans for me on the sidelines. Along the way there is a blue house which is fenced in, but the gate is usually open when I pass by and there are three young boys who call out to me and wave. I have even grabbed a runaway ball for them and made sure they made it back across the street after retrieving it. Hearing their laughter and voices alarms me of the next hill on my route. Their house is right at the beginning of the second hill I run up and it may be the steepest.
At the top of that hill there isn’t a downslope, it curves right into another incline. Since there is a dogwalker’s house midway through I call it the Doghouse hill. At this point on my route I am occasionally greeted by a lady sometimes she is in her car or headed into to her home. Normally she nods or smiles, and I often see people passing by or in their cars doing this, so I wasn’t expecting to be remembered until the day she did something unusual. I was rounding the curve at the top of the hill and headed into the next just as I passed her house and she yells out “you are getting stronger”. I smiled through my mask as I waved at her and ran on. A few seconds later I looked down at my legs and thought I am getting stronger.
I needed those words in my ear that day. Before I stepped off my porch that morning, I had decided to run right through the Blue House hill or hill number 2 and on to the connecting Doghouse hill or hill number 3. Even if I had to catch my breath for a couple of seconds on the downslope, I was going to make that day my first time completing both hills without walking. It is great to find new routes to challenge the muscles and it is also rewarding to go on a familiar path. I am looking forward to doing both during this month.
Every day of August was not a day with a physical activity planned and conquered. I had days that I used to recover and days that I let rush by without getting a workout in. I wanted to make a habit of being okay with strength training and running to make it a part of my present and future and that has been a success.
For the month of September I want to focus on building the lifetime physical health image that is in my mind. I think of physical health as something that must done for a lifetime just like eating and sleeping. It can appear as more of an option or accessory to life instead of a necessity. I look at it like the food a body must have to survive, if one type of food can no longer be ingested you switch to one that can and chose not to be hungry. You eat for a lifetime out of necessity and exercise has to be looked at the same way if you want to have a total body wellness.
I realize my lifetime image will change as my endurance, strength, and age change, but it must continue from day to day and month to month. Waking up each day with a set time to run and a set distance to go will give me the power to build this lifelong image with a routine in place until it becomes an actually routine. I’ll keep a voice in my mind to shout an encouragement to me if a sudden modification needs to happen for any reason. It will tell me to adjust, but don’t give up, don’t abandon your wellness and I will listen. I don’t ever want to be in the place of doing nothing because I cannot do exactly what I desire to do.
I have found my way out of reserve and into a better lifestyle. The work of August has given me a momentum to reach new physical goals that will shake up mind and please my spirit, I am ready for the ride.
The end of a thing will set the scene for what is next. As the month of August bows and prepares for an exit, I am headed into a new season, one that I can enter into with an accomplishment that is open for growth. I can confidently say another 30-day goal is reachable and something I will take on as a part of my choice to improve my health lifestyle.
I opted for a 30-day challenge to start off to avoid feeling pressured by time. It is easy to choose a yearlong goal and say how many miles you will run, how much weight you will lose or the amount of muscles you will gain, but the doing is the difficult part. If you think there is more time to reach a goal, you may put off getting started or wait until the last few months to act and over work the body or start an extreme weight loss regimen. Choosing a weekly or monthly goal or doing a quarterly check-in with yourself may provide insight into your progress and help to determine what you really want for yourself.
Running without trying to break a record and doing strength building exercises without trying to compete with a me from the past gave me a chance to commit to a new beginning without limits or minimums. I only looked to finish the miles I planned for the day or the amount of time I agreed to at the start of my strength training. There was not a picture of an athlete, friend, or neighbor hanging in my mind to compete with; only the present me, the contract, and a healthier lifestyle.
In the journey to get back something I love, something I would do on any waking day I found a start to reclaiming a healthier lifestyle. A lifestyle I placed in the background and did not give great importance to. Every day I am making a choice to live better for my health and reaping the benefits that affect the other parts of my life. I changed my routine to get what I love back into my life. I pushed aside the excuses and reasons why I should not, and l decided I would. I looked pass the thought of the physical pain I knew would come and embraced the pain of change I felt.
I feel great, my body is shaping into a physique I have not seen in a while and I feel no pressure to become a size. I will continue on the journey.
Heading into the third week of executing the contract I made with myself, I looked at the calendar and half the month was behind me. I had done some things to get acquainted with giving my body the daily exercise it deserved. Running was at the top of my list and the other cardio I included offered the right portion of different I needed to spark a fire in my muscles. I could feel the effects of the various squats, lunges, and balancing moves in my fibers. It was satisfying to feel stronger, but I had another feeling going on too.
As I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt a burst of excitement and I smiled as the words “I am really doing this” entered my mind. I almost got a bit goofy. Here I was opening the door that had merely been cracked opened for more than a year and the crack hadn’t been large enough for me to get through. Day after day I would watch people run up hill, downhill and around the parks all from my car window. Why not just go and run? I wanted to, I wanted to take a chance. I didn’t budge and was not planning to.
I had developed anemia from having low iron and it was extremely paralyzing to think of being out on a trail or miles away from home and not be able to catch my breath. I thought I would be out there waiting for someone to find me. I tried indoor running and exercises, but any vigorous movement for more than a few minutes would send me to the coolest part of the house to catch my breath. Defeated, I took my pills and waited for a change in the numbers.
Months later my iron replenished, but my habit of running was lost on some path I couldn’t find and nowhere near my doorstep. Running has been a safe place for my thoughts and a release for any doubts or stress that would land on my shoulders. The moment I let “the run” slip from my reach I also allowed that place of release to disappear.
I gained 20 lbs. during this setback and I saw a rippling effect in the making. Knowledge of this uninviting future pushed me to start the scattered exercise routine; you know the one day this week workout or maybe a brisk walk on my break kind of day. It wasn’t working and I was ready for more. Then came the month of August peaking from below July and like a concerned friend I told myself “it’s a perfect time to get your run and back”.
My body was still adjusting to the change in routine. At the start of the week I noticed one of my knees had a strange feeling in it after logging 4miles. It wasn’t there while I was running or during other exercises, but post workout I could feel the difference while walking around indoors. The jiggly feeling in my knee nearly psyched me out of doing anything at all. Then I remembered the pain and stiffness from the first week of resting too long after a long run and I wasn’t signing up to walk around with that type pain haunting my steps.
Although the discomfort in my knee was not painful, and it would come and go I couldn’t ignore it. If I was going to get stronger and healthier, I also needed to include proper before and after care of my body. I couldn’t allow one health concern be reason to put my body at risk for a real injury, so I took some care action.
I checked my gear and to be sure I had the right shoes for the distance and impact. The running shoes I was using had also become the ones I would leave at the door and throw on to go wherever. I switch them up with another pair that were tucked away in the garage and the switch up made a huge difference. I could feel the cushioning and a solid support in theses old but new shoes, and they did not weigh me down. They were not the only change up, I also decided to wear a brace to help reduce the movement of my knee and the area around it while causally going up and down the stairs in the house.
Research, learning and doing without worrying myself out of progress are what carried me through the second week of real commitment to self. I thought my takeaway this week would be the connection to the outdoor scenery or the music that helped to boost my effort, but it was the knowledge of preparation. Having the best tools for the hour is just as important as having the will to do the work for the type of improvement I want to see.
The next day, Sunday, the day after my big run I woke up with fatigue muscles. I was sore and as the day went on, I became excessively sore. A short walk and stretch or foam roller may have helped, but I did neither and opted to rest for two days. On Tuesday my legs were willing to engage in a light run, 2.28 miles and .58 miles of walking. My body felt pretty good, but I did not want to exhaust myself right away, well not until midweek.
Wednesday hit and I felt the need to apply pressure and responded with 30 minutes of cardio including dancing, 200 squats and 100 leg lifts. I squeezed all the energy out of my being during this session. My eyes were looking past what did not feel good in the moment and focused in on the image of a drastic transformation, so I did not hold back.
Finally, the end of seven days was near. Of course, I rested on Thursday after wearing out my legs the previous day, and that left Friday open for a light run of 2.02 miles and a half mile walk through my hilly neighborhood. The weekend arrived and I got caught up in it with no problem. The thought of exercise or running did not even marinate in my mind at all, and besides achieving some basic daily movements my flesh was deprived.
I do not know if I am doing more hurt or harm the way I have been juggling intense and light workouts with extended rest days. I used to feel as though I had a better grip on what was good for my body type and exercise level; now I feel like I am a beginner finding my answers through a maze of solutions.
Hiccups and struggles overall, I was excited that I made it through the first week and I felt good about it. Habits were broken and new habits were created. I want to go on, I want to challenge myself and I will.