Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Story Part Three - 5 Lessons Learned

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Marie Robinson

Soon after I received the e-newsletter from Prevention Magazine about training for a 5K, I decided that this would be the path I would travel to create a new end to My Story.  I didn't have a lot of money, but all I needed was a pair of running shoes and a watch with a timer on it.  That was financially manageable.  I didn't have a lot of time, but I was able to run when I could fit it in, which more often than not was late at night.  That fit into my life without causing too much extra stress.  It had been a long time since I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried something new.  This seemed like a safe choice.  I could do this! 

These are the lessons I learned during the three months I spent training for my first 5k.  (In case you are interested, here is the link to the 5k training program I followed:

Lesson #1 - Write your goal down and post it where you will see it on a regular basis.

Once I made the decision that I would train for a 5K, I had to find one.  I picked my starting date as January 2nd and counted fifteen weeks on the calendar which put me in mid-April.  There are numerous websites that list 5K's and other running events.  I went to and and found the Genesis Riverside Run on Saturday, April 10th, 2010.  I wrote down my goal and posted it in multiple places - inside the cereal cupboard, inside the front cover of my planner, by my desk and tucked inside the visor of my car.  I will complete a 5k on Saturday, April 10th. 

My son, JJ, cheering me on as I head out for my first training run.
I laugh now at how bundled up I got - four layers!
January 2010

Lesson #2 - Share your goal with others.

I probably took this one to the extreme.  I told EVERYONE that I came in contact with that I was planning to participate in this 5k.  As a lifelong people pleaser, my thinking was that there was no way I would humiliate myself by backing out and not completing this challenge.  People I knew did me a HUGE favor by remembering my goal and asking me about it often through those three months.  They truly pushed me to work harder and keep going.  I was shocked with how many people encouraged me at work or on facebook or through e-mail the week before my big day. 

Lesson #3 - Make your exercise schedule work for you.

At one point in my training I became very frustrated because I was always too busy and tired on Tuesdays and kept skipping the workout.  I was ready to give up.  Talking to my mom about it, she asked me "Who is telling you that you have to run on Tuesdays?"  That question made me stop and think.  "The schedule on the paper," I quietly answered.  "The paper?  Do they have a day to rest on the paper?" she asked.  "Yes, on Sundays." I replied.  "Why don't you rest on Tuesdays and run on Sundays?  Don't give up.  Just make a simple change to make the schedule work for you."  I always knew my mom was a wise woman!  Making that switch was a huge mental turning point for me.  I had been trying to fit myself into the training schedule, when what I really needed to do was fit the training schedule into my life.  It worked - I didn't quit!

Lesson #4 - There is truth to the statement that your body with become addicted to exercise.

During one of my annual doctor visits my doctor started in on her annual "You Should" lecture.  I remember her saying that if you push through the initial hurdle of exercising on a regular basis and wanting to quit, your body will become addicted to exercise.  Your body will CRAVE exercise.  Seriously?!?  Like I believed that one!  Then one night about half-way through the training program, I decided that I was too tired to run and I crawled into bed.  I couldn't relax.  I couldn't fall asleep.  My brain was going over my day trying to figure out what was wrong.  I wasn't necessarily stressed out about anything specific.  I hadn't had any caffeine late in the afternoon.  I definitely hadn't had time for a nap.  Why couldn't I fall asleep?  Then it dawned on me.  I got out of bed, put on my running clothes, ran a quick mile, came home, hopped in the shower, crawled back in bed and fell fast asleep.  I was addicted!  My body couldn't relax and rest until I had exercised.  I was so excited to go back to the doctor and tell her that she had been right!

Lesson #5 - It is important to have someone to hold you accountable.

I knew that my brother-in-law, Chris Tomley, had run 5k's in the past.  I asked him if he would run my first 5k with me.  This was one of the best decisions I ever made!  On the day of the 5k I was SOOOO nervous!  We gathered with the other runners at the starting line - my heart was racing.  I looked around and saw all of these thin people in their spandex running pants and fancy running watches.  There I stood in my capri sweatpants and ball cap.  I definitely did not look like I belonged with this crowd.  The starting gun sounded and Chris and I took off.  Everyone seemed to be bumping into me as they tried to pass me.  After about 100 yards, I came to a complete stop and burst into tears.  I was saying to Chris, "This was a HUGE mistake.  I can't do this.  I'm not ready.  Let's just go."  I am so thankful for what Chris did next.  He took me by the arm and pulled me to the side of the path.  "We're just going to stand here and let everyone pass us.  Then we are going to get back on the course and we are going to run and walk and run and walk until we reach the finish line."  I got myself together and when the last of the crowd had run by, Chris and I started to run.  We did just as he said - we ran and walked and ran and walked until we crossed the finish line.  Throughout the course Chris encouraged me and joked with me (My favorite was when a young boy passed us running the other way toward the finish line.  Chris said, "Just ignore the fact that the little 7-year-old is running faster than you."  Ha!Ha!).  If Chris had not been there with me, I would have given up!  I needed him there to push and encourage me.

My Coach, Chris Tomley, and I at the Starting Line of my first 5k.
April 10, 2010

April 10, 2010 was a HUGE day for me.  My goal was to finish in under 45 minutes.  Chris and I crossed the Finish Line in 43:16.  The feelings that I had when I crossed that Finish Line are nearly indescribable - extreme joy and pride are what comes to mind.  I was SO happy!  I had set a goal for myself.  I had stepped out of my comfort zone trying something that I had never done before.  I had been ready to give-up and quit on a couple occasions throughout the three months of training and on the course, but I hadn't . . . I kept going. 

These five lessons that I learned spurred me on to continue this journey of health and wellness.  I had been at a point in life where I didn't like where I was, something needed to change.  I needed to start working toward a "new ending."  This was my first step in that new direction and it was AMAZING!

Are you where I was?  Are you in need of a new direction toward a new end?  I invite you to hop on the path of health and wellness that I'm on . . . there's plenty of room!

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