Do you remember when you were a small child, running around the playground with friends, playing a game of tag? Suddenly you were “it” and your legs just couldn’t carry you fast enough to tag anyone else. For what felt like hours, you chased around your friends, running with everything you had and tried your hardest, eventually feeling defeated and ready to throw in the towel. Knowing you were not the fastest runner or the most agile, you gave up and muttered, “I quit!” The next thing you knew, taunts of “Quitter! You’re such a baby!” rang out from your so-called friends. To be fair to my childhood friends, this is a generic scenario, and I don’t have any clear memories of this exact situation, but I know in my gut that I’ve been there at times in my life. Those moments planted in me a fear of publicly quitting something I had been working towards. It’s terrifying to publicly stand up and say, “I couldn’t do it and I had to quit.” Saying those words out loud makes me feel like I am a failure, and I’ve let not only myself down, but anyone who was rooting for me. However, today I am going to face my fears and tell you a story of something I recently quit, and how the experience turned out to be liberating and just what my soul needed.
Photo from the great city of Austin Texas a few weeks ago. This post is really wordy, so I figured I’d throw in a photo for you.
I’ve very publicly on this blog and other social media platforms discussed my love for running, sharing my experience with half marathons (here and here), as well as an overnight relay I ran twice and as captain of my second round. (Read about it here and here.) I know what you are thinking… who loves running? I admit, it’s not the running I love because as any runner knows, that is a challenge which tests your endurance both mentally and physically. However, I love what it does to my body, and I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I’ve completed a run, especially a challenging hill or pace push. In my life time I have worked in gyms as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor, and nothing makes me feel more fit than running. I continued to run until I was 16 weeks pregnant with Wilder at which time my doctor told me I might want to hold off a bit because… (and she said something here about bladders dropping and that was all I needed to hear to make me say, “OK, no running until after the baby! Keep bladder in place!”) After that conversation, I took a break and hit the pavement as a walker for the rest of my pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, walking is amazing exercise! For me personally, I just feel less anxious and more fit when running is part of my weekly routine.
*I also want to add here that I was NOT an athletic child, I despised running the mile in middle school and often walked most of it. People have over the years said things to me like, “Oh but you’ve always been fit.” “Haven’t you always been a runner?” The answer is a big fat, “Hell, no!” I was not a healthy teen, and didn’t discover fitness until my mid twenties. It is never too late to find fitness, and never too late to become a runner.
Wilder was born in April of 2018, and when he was just a couple weeks old, I started going on regular walks again to help me get my body back (bladder still in tact, thank goodness! TMI?) as well as stay sane. Even in the early weeks of his infancy, no matter how tired I was, I pushed myself out the door early in the morning to hit the streets with my neighbor. I continued with walking, adding in Betty Rocker‘s 30 day challenge, then her 90 day challenge. I fully intended to get back to running, but the next thing I knew, we found out we were moving, and there I was with an infant, prepping our house to sell, and then packing it all up. At that time, life became so stressful and I am not proud to admit that I began to look forward to my evening wine almost every day after I put the baby to bed, a habit that continued for some time after we moved. I knew that I needed to find a healthier outlet for my stress than a couple glasses of my favorite red blend every evening.
The lent season rolled around, and although I am not Catholic, each year I love to challenge myself by giving something up. This time around, I gave up wine so that I could break the habit. At the same time, I made the decision to lace up those running shoes again. The lack of vigorous exercise paired with the intake of alcohol calories had me feeling really “fluffy.” My pants were snug or not fitting at all, and I knew that something had to change, and I wanted it to be me that changed, not my pant size. Most importantly, I didn’t feel good about myself…. not for reasons of vanity, but because I knew I wasn’t treating my body with love and respect.
In the first two weeks, I started off by running 1 mile without stopping. The next run was 2 miles, then I went to 3, allowing myself to walk a little if needed as I added distance. I soon got into my groove with running again and committed to three runs a week with three walks, and one day of rest. Over the last decade, I have identified as a runner, so I truly felt like I was getting a part of myself back, and that felt wonderful. Running is a a mental and physical challenge and the reward is self-confidence.
Even though I was building up my miles and regularly running, I still wasn’t feeling great about how I looked and I knew that there was something more I needed to do. In order to truly push myself, I decided that I would sign up for the Greensboro half marathon this coming November 23. When I discussed it with Chris, he said, “Well, let’s do it together!” (For the record, we are NOT one of those annoyingly adorable couples that run together.) At the end of July, I signed us both up, and when August arrived, we started training. (The “we” here is used rather loosely… I started training, and Chris ran 3 times in August. That’s just how we do.) Naturally, I proclaimed what we were doing on facebook and in my instagram stories, and even started a little instagram group of runners so that we could support one another. When you’re about to challenge yourself, letting the world know is a great way to have some accountability, and I still stand by that belief.
Around that same time, a new gym opened right by my house- I could literally walk there! I don’t because I don’t have anywhere to park the stroller, but you get the idea. Our budget is extremely tight right now, but I looked at it also as an opportunity for Wilder to get some socialization with other children in the kids’ club. Additionally, I could go to classes and get a much more well rounded exercise program going while also getting a little mom-break.
This gym quickly became something I looked forward to regularly. I’ve started going to barre, spin, HIIT, and yoga. With all of those class options, I found that I still wanted to run and mix that into my week, but what I didn’t want to do was dedicate so much time to training for a half marathon. Instead of feeling obligated to run 8 miles, I wanted to hit a Body Flow class, or check out a spin class. I discovered that although running was helping my cardiovascular healthy, it was creating tension and weakness in some parts of my body. My fitness style was feeling awfully cramped and training for a half marathon began to feel like a burden I was carrying with me on all of my runs…. a heavy weight that slowed me down. Each Saturday I would set out to run a longer run, and I’d be dragging my feet, and unimpressed and frustrated by my pace. Every time I set out, I cussed myself for signing up for the half marathon.
Just before I headed to Austin, Texas for a conference in October, I discussed quitting with Chris. The thing that was holding me back from making that decision was my fear… my fear of letting myself and Chris down, as well as everyone else who I’d told and who had been supporting me throughout my training. However, I knew in my heart that it was the right decision for me. Despite my anxiety over telling everyone that I had dropped out of the half marathon, I did it. I emailed the organization in charge and removed myself from the race.
Now, before I leave you all with the fact that I am a quitter, I want to share with you how I reframed my thinking and realized that in this case, quitting was a good thing! While I was quitting one event, I was not quitting on myself. As I approached that tough decision, I revisited my goals. When I initially signed up for the half marathon in July, you may recall that my goal was to get in better shape, and the race and training required were simply a means to an end. During that time, life changed and we joined a gym, and I found a new way to meet that goal that felt right. With the gym workouts and classes, I started to notice more definition in my arms, less belly fat, and I felt good about myself- maybe even great. However, the scale didn’t budge. I chalked it up to my body changing composition because my clothes were fitting so much better, and I didn’t worry about it.
Let me tell you about what happened as soon as I pulled myself from that race, because it blows my mind! First of all, in one week, I lost 4 pounds. As you might recall, I am currently doing the Last 90 Days Challenge which started October 1, and with that was doing Sober October and gave up wheat products as well. For the first two weeks of October, despite those changes, I didn’t lose a single ounce. It was the third week when I decided that I was done with the race that the scale suddenly budged, and not just a little. I firmly believe that the stress over the race was causing me to hold on to extra weight. Secondly, my running pace suddenly became much faster. I use the Runkeeper app, and the first time I was out for a run after quitting, I thought for sure the app was experiencing a glitch because my pace was 30-45 seconds faster per minute. When the same thing happened on the next couple of runs, I realized that it was in fact my pace. Thanks to feeling less heavy wth the burden of the race training, I was able to move more swiftly on my feet.
While my intent with this post was to tell you all about something I was ashamed of, being a quitter, this blog always aims to be a place of positivity because I believe in spreading good, even when it’s hard. I felt it was important to share this lesson with you that sometimes quitting can actually be the best thing for you. Saying no makes room to say yes to other things, so while I said “no” to the half marathon I had once committed to, I said yes to other things… my health, my happiness, and my initial goal.
Have you had a time in your life where saying no to something you thought was a goal, turned out to be the best thing for you? Tell me all about it in the comments!