I've chewed off all my fingernails and ate three sweet potatoes' worth of homemade sweet potato fries at lunch today. Want to know if I'm really stressed out? Check out my nail beds and my eating habits.
Tomorrow I get back the results of my bone scans (Dexa tests, for those in the know) and the mountains of bloodwork I've had done over the last few weeks. Tomorrow, I find out if there's something seriously wrong, or if all of these breaks are just a series of really bad luck. The entire setup is so absurd that I want to laugh, so unbelievable that if it wasn't happening to me, if I wasn't the 25 year old making friends with all of the old women in bone scan waiting rooms - at least I've gotten some good hard candy out of it - I would roll my eyes and assume it's false.
I've been struggling lately with how to bring the joy back into fitness that I once found effortlessly with a good workout. It's harder as the Marathon approaches and I see others counting down, posting excited social media updates, as I sit on my umpteenth stationary bike and will my legs not to thrill with pain when I walk across the floor.
Last week, I picked up a new book to casually start on a plane - Run The World by Becky Wade. And then I couldn't put it down. Aside from being incredibly inspirational from a running standpoint (nothing like reading about someone winning their debut marathon to make you gasp in awe and only a little bit of intimidation), the basic premise is so exciting, so right in my wheelhouse, that I immediately made enemies up and down the aisle of my 11 p.m. flight by keeping my light on for the duration in order to speed through the pages.
With the help of a fellowship, over the course of the book, Becky quite literally runs the world - visiting numerous countries and running cultures around the globe. She learns about their rituals and their rivalries, the food that fuels them and the ways they rest and recover. But what stuck out most to me was the joy that everyone in the book brought to running. Each time they laced their sneakers, they did so happily, with genuine appreciation for what their bodies would do next.
Well shit. I thought as I read. It's been a very long time since I've felt like that.
When I began running, I hated it. And then I loved it - very quickly. I ran for joy and for fun. Sure, I chased races, but I didn't care about my times, I didn't care about how I stacked up against anyone else and I sure as hell had fun when I laced up my sneakers. And somewhere along the way, I've lost that.
For a long time, I've been motivated by fear. I touched upon this a bit in my piece on my struggles with eating, but it started to morph as I began running. Was my body sore? Didn't matter. I was too afraid not to run. And now, dealing with injury after injury, I'm afraid of how my body will betray me every single time I attempt a workout. That's a really sobering place to be in life, and it's a really terrible mental status to carry with you day in, day out.
I want to be motivated by love. I want to feel deep appreciation each time I grab my sneakers. Hell, I want to have fun!
As the Boston Marathon approaches, I'm starting to get really sad again : sad about not running, sad about the constant barrage across social media from everyone who is, sad that I still feel like a failure, sad that I've been essentially sidelined, again, for the last six weeks. And as the test results loom over my head tomorrow morning, I'm truly scared of what I'll find out. Both things tell me one thing : that I need to use Run The World as inspiration, and undertake my own journey to explore the passion that moves anyone who cares deeply about fitness and wellness.
So, in lieu of running the Marathon, I'm undertaking my own personal challenge. A new challenge. And while I'd like to focus on running, I think part of my own healing and growth process needs to be learning that running isn't my end all, be all - it can't and it shouldn't be. If (when?!) I make my return to serious running, that will be great. But I want to be drawing upon a wealth of experiences, learning and growing and holistically stronger, than ever before.
So, my new challenge to myself is to discover the fun and the power in fitness and wellness in entirely new ways. And as we come up on the Marathon, and the anniversary of my broken hip, in a nod to the fact that I spent the last year fighting myself to get back to running, I'm going to dictate that this challenge of exploration last a year. And like any self-respecting Type A person, I've jotted down some ground rules :
1. Test out one new idea and wellness-related concept a month. It should be a challenge. It should force my outside my comfort zone. I'll be starting April 1, and I'm actually doing two in the first month. One, I'll write about more at a later date. The second? Stretch and foam roll every. damn. day. Because I am the worst at this. Because I hate feeling how weak I've become. Because it's important.
2. Weekly written check-ins. I mean, duh. I'll probably post them here. If you started rolling your eyes halfway through this post, I feel you. Just don't read.
3. Try one new workout a month. (As long as I'm physically cleared to do so.) Because, fun, that's why. Because six days of only running, or only lifting, or only spinning, is not that great for you overall!
4. Interview one woman a month about the role wellness and fitness plays in her life, and why it's so important to her. I'll write about those here, too.
5. Remember to forgive myself if I fall short. Because I'm kind of sick of beating myself up. Aren't you?
The next year of my life is about to get wild. Like, really crazy. Like big life changes crazy. (Coming soon!). But for the first time in a long time, I feel ready to take on a big new challenge, to explore some limits, to learn and grow and get my mind blown.
Thanks for writing your book, Becky Wade. I don't think it's a coincidence that another Becky came into my life to help me out at a time when I was struggling. The universe, baby. It just knows.
PS - I'm hoping to get a LOT! of input as I undertake this year-long challenge! Have an idea for something I should test out for a month? A person I should interview? A topic I should cover? Let me know!