Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
Wellness, as we’ve talked about many times before, is a lifelong journey. So many of us, myself included, have been trapped in the cycle of dieting, succeeding, and failing until we’ve stopped ourselves (or something else has stopped us) and realized that good health only becomes a more permanent part of our lives when we invite it to be a full fledged member of our household. Diets are like transients staying in our guest room. Wellness, on the other hand, like any other member of the family, comes to the table for mealtime, goes for early morning runs, brings us joy, and even when our relationship is rocky, we recover with love. When we change our habits and our mindset over time and learn to respect the journey, wellness becomes not something we aspire to have, but a partner who is always with us. Arriving at and maintaining this understanding, however, is not an easy thing to do.
It’s been more than a month since Spartan Race Trifecta Weekend here in Hawaii. I’ve enjoyed many powerful and inspirational events on my journey to wellness, but none quite like this. Accomplishing this challenge forced me to ‘shift’. It was the first time in my life I truly felt like an athlete, not because I did anything faster or better than the next gal (or even myself), but because I nearly broke my body that weekend, pushed myself beyond every limitation ever placed upon me, and I accomplished what I set out to do. I was not raised as an athlete (in fact, I was raised to think I could NEVER be one), but this kind of perseverance is something I have always believed real athletes possess and it was cool to see it in ME. How many times have you watched football, seen a player go down and be pulled from the field, get taped up, and get right back out there to get slammed A-GAIN? I always thought that was insane, but I now know what it’s like to push beyond your limits in order to achieve a victory. My definition of victory that weekend was crossing that finish line 3 times and it didn’t matter what happened or how much agony it caused me. It strengthened my spirit and my belief in the possible. I achieved a whole new level of self awareness and that made an impact.
But back to that near broken body…
I absolutely hate to admit it, but I really hurt myself that weekend. After all the adrenaline left my body, I finally sat down and self assessed and acknowledged that I was in a lot of pain. I watched with envy the other Trifecta finishers I know go on to do amazing runs and other athletic events a week or less after Spartan while I struggled to run a 5K a few days afterward and I beat myself up over it. Up until that point, I’d been able to overcome pain or discomfort while running by just mentally pushing through it. This time, however, my body was not going to be forgiving – it was screaming at me to stop what I was doing and rest. I have had a very hard time accepting that.
Mentally, the true shift happened when I realized how difficult it was to mother my toddlers. They take more physical effort than you realize and picking them up, carrying them up and down stairs, being on my feet most of the day — all of these things were difficult in the few weeks following the race. I kicked myself emotionally for choosing to participate in an optional event that resulted in compromising my ability to care for my family. I have never felt ‘guilt’ for running as much as I have this year, and I’ve never felt as guilty for trying to achieve a fitness goal since getting hurt impacted my physical ability to parent. I had a difficult time accepting this as well.
After a few very painful attempts to run, even after giving myself a rest, I went to the doctor to check for fractures and got the first all clear (one more test to do). In starting to address the mental shift that was going on, I chose to take a conversation I had with a good friend who recently ran her first marathon to heart. Sometimes, doing something BIG that you’ve never done before like a marathon or a Spartan Trifecta can mess you up a little, especially if you’ve had to run in pain and especially when you cross this strange physical/mental threshold for the first time. Most athletes I think would be THRILLED to complete something like a Trifecta weekend, and I was, but there’s a piece of me that is also terrified by it. Maybe it’s because I’ve never hurt like this before. Maybe it’s because the responsibilities I have to my family became more real because of it. Maybe I’m just scared of what’s next (or not). Not easy to explain, but through prayer and reflection, I came to the simple conclusion that “shift happens”. It was time to take a look at my priorities, ignore what everyone else was doing, accept where I am now physically and mentally, and decide how to move forward. So that’s what I did.
In my next post, I’ll talk about the first 7 days of ‘starting over’ with half marathon training and Chris Powell’s 7 Day Carb Cycle and share a insights I’ve had out on the trail.
Have you ever experienced a big “shift” in your mindset or beliefs after accomplishing a goal or finishing a physically demanding challenge? I’d love to hear about it! Share your experience on my Facebook page, post a link to your blog, or comment below!