I’m back!

As some of you may have noticed, I was struggling with a lot of stress and illness when my posts started to fizzle out.  To be honest, this last track of school has been more about survival than anything.  Physically, I haven’t been feeling the greatest.  Just when I start to feel normal, I get sick.  I’m exhausted – mentally and physically.  And emotionally I’m just frustrated because of all of this.  Yoga and running have been on pause for what seems like months.  It started out with being sick all the time and has turned into a combination of lack of energy and lack of motivation.  I think there’s definitely something weird going on with my body, and I’m in the process of trying to figure that out, but I think that despite that I may be guilty of over-training when I set out on this Half-Marathon Adventure.  I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my running practice, and although I’ve learned a lot from running, I’ve also learned a lot over the past few months from not running:

Don’t compare yourself to others.  This is a recipe for disaster.  My body is different than everyone else out there, and I need to do what’s right for me.  If that means learning to run 6 miles over the course of 16 weeks, then that’s OK.  If that means running a 12 minute mile, that’s acceptable.  I’m still progressing, perhaps at a slower rate.  Better to do that and stay healthy than to push myself and end up in the pickle I’ve been in for months.

I joined a running group at the YMCA and really struggle with seeing all the posts coming through my e-mail.  People twice my age are running marathons at paces that I could never dream of maintaining.  On top of that they’re doing all sorts of other activities on the side – cycling, swimming, strength training.  Sometimes I feel that being the youngest one in the crowd, and especially one that doesn’t have a family to worry about on top of that, I should be able to do just as much as them, if not more.  But I forget that I am different, and that they have been doing this for years!  I just started running a year and a half ago.  Why wouldn’t they be running farther and faster than me?!?  I need to do what is right for Tamara.

I don’t need to do everything.  I don’t know why I never had this revelation before, but it dawned on me the other day that I don’t need to be a runner all the time and that I don’t need to do yoga all the time.  I can’t do everything all at once.  My mother told me that constantly as a kid and I feel like I’ve been learning that lesson for months now.  I expect way too much out of myself, and then I burn out.  I can have a season for running.  I can have a season for yoga.  I remember how when I started my half-marathon training I would go to yoga on Saturday morning for 90 minutes and then go to the lake and run 6 miles.  At the time it made sense, but now it seems psychotic.  That’s almost 3 hours of intense activity and over 1000 calories burned!  No wonder my body gave up on me!  EEP!

I don’t need to run 5 miles for it to be good exercise.  I always thought I was so good about not having the all-or-nothing approach, but then I realized that I was completely guilty of this.  For some reason I had it stuck in my head that if I wasn’t going on long runs or that if I wasn’t at the gym for an hour, it wasn’t doing anything and wasn’t worth my time.  When I started getting sick and exhausted, instead of cutting back on what I was doing, I stopped doing anything.

When my friend David was home for his spring break, we started going on walks together.  It may seem stupid, but it wasn’t until I started going on those walks that I remembered that walking is, in fact, exercise and that if I’m too tired too go on a run it is perfectly acceptable to go on a walk.  Along the same line, if I can’t run three miles any more, why can’t I focus on running one?  One mile is better than zero miles.

So what’s my plan?  Don’t worry, I’m still on this Half-Marathon Adventure.  I will run 13.1 miles – I’m just not entirely sure it’s going to happen in 2011.  I need to take smaller steps than I thought, and I am accepting that.  Either way, I’m still going farther than I would have if I had not set a goal at all and I’m growing and learning along the way.  My plan is to follow the 16-week beginner 10K plan from the coach in my running group.  There’s the part of me that cringes at the thought of the first couple of weeks only being a mile, but then I think about how I went from running three miles to six miles in only a month or so and how soon after everything quit.  Maybe it’s best for me to only run a mile for a couple of weeks.  I think my body will thank me!

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