After last year’s successful resolution of running a 5K event every month, I decided to up the ante and double the distance. It was my last-ditch effort to feel like a real runner. I signed up for a 10K the weekend before my 30th birthday and was determined to get my ass back in shape and get ‘er done. My last running event was December 21st and come January, I was determined to start training for my next event. And I did!
I figured that the best way to start was to really ease myself into it and so I chose a couch-to-10K training plan. It was 12 weeks and would have me running a full 10K a few weeks before the event. From there, I would just need to maintain the stamina and keep pushing forward. The plan was perfect for me and I began to look forward to my evening runs thrice a week. And even more to the kitties waiting for me to return.
I actually started to like the routine. I had my upbeat playlist blasting songs that had me literally dancing in the streets and I loved the cold air on my face as I ran lap after lap around my neighborhood. I easily committed to three nights a week hitting the pavement and I looked forward to seeing my progress workout after workout. I started to think that I finally found my exercise groove and could sustain it.
Unfortunately, my body had a different plan.
I ended up getting a cold mid-February that forced me to skip a week’s training. As soon as I felt better, I repeated the last week I had done and was still on track to finish the training in time for the event. I was back for about two weeks before I started getting a pain in my left leg. It was a dull ache all the time and seemed to get worse when I was sitting. I searched the internet for a diagnosis and then I found one: shin splints.
Stupid shin splints. I had never gotten them before and I took the advice of friends (including icing, hot baths, and anti-inflammatory drugs), I bought new shoes and a calf sleeve, I took another two weeks off, but nothing seemed to help. What was the most frustrating to me was that the pain wasn’t even that bad; it was mild discomfort at best. However, I knew that if I continued to run, it could turn into something even worse and I didn’t want to risk it. After finally consulting with a doctor, I decided to forgo the training and give my body what it needed the most: time to heal. I still planned to participate in the 10K, but I decided that I would listen to my body and if it hurt, I needed to walk rather than run.
Unfortunately, I realized that there was no way I would be running a 5K in less than 30 minutes (#12 on my list) so I decided to change the plan. Rather than speed, I would work on endurance and I felt that an eight-mile hike from the mountains to the ocean was just the thing to do.
Easter Sunday, I woke up early, picked up my aunt who was visiting from Massachusetts, and we hit the Big Sycamore Canyon trail.
It was a beautiful day and many others joined us in enjoying the sunshine. For three hours, we chatted and hiked, enjoying the calm serenity of a blissful Sunday morning. When we reached the end, we were energized, ravenous, and sore. I surveyed the damage when I got home and have never seen blisters as big as the ones I earned—yes, earned—that day on the trail.
A couple of weeks later, I laced up my new running shoes and joined the 10K pack for my first attempt at a longer distance race. It was a particularly warm May morning and it didn’t take long for my body to start giving me signs that I needed to take it easy. And easy I did. For the entire race, I ran, walked, then ran again. I wasn’t the first finisher and I wasn’t the last, but I was a finisher nonetheless and I’m proud of that. I could have easily slept in that day with the kitties and not gone to the event, but I did and I did the whole thing one way or another.
The thing about plans is that they can be changed. I didn’t want my physical limitations to prevent me from completing my list, but I didn’t want to give myself a pass because I couldn’t do something. I thought that if I scrapped an item and didn’t replace it with another, the only person I would be cheating was myself. I had come too far to only finish 29 of my 30 challenges. The goal was always to finish every item on the list. The only fair thing in my mind was to readjust the plan and that’s exactly what I did.
Because a goal accomplished is still an accomplishment even if it was different from the plan.