Rest to Continue the Quest
I’ve been running consistently for almost two years now and the only reason I’ve been able to maintain it is because small goals lead to big results. I’ve written about this before and have shared how the question I get asked most often, as a full time teacher and a mom of four young boys, is “How do you do it?” Although answering this question is somewhat complex, a huge part of it is small, manageable, and attainable goals (and not just for running). I started running with only two rules in mind… run for 10 minutes, and don’t miss two days in a row. Carving out 10 minutes was never impossible, even after a long day, and I only had to plan one day ahead. For me, this was what I needed and it’s because of this that I’ve been successful. It was never about distance, or speed, or keeping up the pace, or carving out the time for an hour long run… 10 minutes at least every other day, that’s it.
Fast forward to now, during a global pandemic, where our world has been turned upside down… gyms are closed yet it’s more important than ever to take care of our mind, body, and soul. I’ve taken this time to push myself a bit more and started adding one “longer” run per week. Now before you laugh, I fully know that my “long” weekly runs are shorter than most people’s short runs… but I’m so good with that. I am proud of what I do because it works for me. I’m proud of the consistency I’ve maintained, and most importantly, I’m proud of the fact that I’m pushing myself and am motivated to keep going, even after two years. On top of my short 10 minute runs (which are usually around 2 km), I’ve now also run four 5 km runs. After those, I was ready for another challenge and decided to go running with my neighbour, Eric, who I knew would push me. He is an incredible runner and one of the nicest guys I know. This was his short run, and it was my longest. We ran 7.8 km together. That was last Friday morning, and at the beginning of the run, I rolled my ankle. I ran it off and within a few minutes, I felt fine. By the end of that run, I felt like my legs might give out on me, but I made it back home. My pace did get slower every kilometre, but I was quite proud of my average pace in the end, and I think Eric was, too. It was impressive that I added nearly 3 km to my longest ever run all in one shot, and still ran it as fast as I did.
The next day, I set out for my next short run, but it was apparent after my first 5 steps that it was a terrible idea. My ankle was hurting and now, so was my knee. I pushed for 1 km and then walked home. I was mad at myself for having gone out, wondering if I had done more damage than good. The next day, I felt good and went out for a run with my husband (who has recently started running). I ran just over 3 km at a slow pace (for me) with him before I had to stop because of my knee and hip flexor. The next day, I decided to rest. Rest. Why didn’t I rest before then?
I promise there’s a reason I’m babbling about running, even if you don’t have the slightest interest in running. I was reminded of two very important lessons this week as a runner, but ones that are very important in all aspects of our lives.
After seeing a few of my running posts, one of my friends complimented me on my pace and even said that she was amazed at how fast I run because I run a whole minute per kilometre faster than she does. My husband was also impressed after we ran together and said that he considers my usual pace a sprint. I was reminded that we can’t compare our results to those of others because we are all on different journeys. I didn’t start running at this pace… I’ve been at it for nearly two years now. If this is your second, or fifth, or even tenth run, don’t compare your pace to mine, look at your own pace and grow from there. I am not comparing my speed or distance to those of marathon runners. I am not comparing my results to Eric’s… I’m just happy he’s willing to slow down and enjoy an easy run while I almost die (at least that way, someone will be there to save me! 🙂
Second, even with physical pain, I continued to push myself to run the next day, and the day after. It’s tricky to know when we should push through and when we truly need rest. You’d think that with my ankle, knee and hip flexor acting up, I would’ve heard the message loud and clear, but I didn’t. And if it’s that hard to listen to our bodies with obvious physical signs, imagine how much harder it is to notice more subtile and subdued physiological, emotional, and spiritual signs. We need to listen to our mind, body, and soul and give ourselves the time needed to rest in order to be our best selves.
Not convinced yet? I love this story that Eric shared with me:
“On May 3rd, I ran 21.1 km trying to do it without stopping, but my training wasn’t quite there yet. After half way, I started getting tired and slowing down. I ended up doing the whole thing in 1 hour and 57 minutes. The following week, I was adding to my distance and ran 25 km. I was doing ‘run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute’ (Jeff Galloway’s method), and did the whole thing in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I finished the first 21.1 km in 1 hour and 52 minutes, 5 minutes faster than the previous week’s time. I was also less tired after running the 25 km because I was taking short breaks during the training run.”
If that doesn’t prove that rest is important, I don’t know what will. Taking those moments of rest will make you better, stronger, and even more efficient! And I’m not just talking about physical rest!
Remember, you are your best competition… strive to be better than you were yesterday (and don’t worry about what others are doing, chances are they didn’t get there overnight).
And don’t forget to take a moment to pause and contemplate if you need rest. Don’t just take physical signs into consideration, dig deeper than that.
Do you need rest to continue the quest?
Pssst, you probably do!