My recent fitness failure: what happened when I quit a run
That’s what I was saying to myself one Friday. I went out
shuffling running jogging and half way through, I quit. It was just too hard putting one foot in front of the other, I had a pain in my calf, it was too hot and I hadn’t drunk enough water.
I stopped doing that and started doing something else instead. I walked home the long way round. Under the circumstances this was the sensible thing to do. But it felt like a right royal exercise failure.
In my head was this one thought “I’m no further on now than when I started working at getting fitter two years ago!”
I was seriously cheesed off. I felt like eating the contents of the confectionary aisle at the nearest supermarket and binge-watching soaps on TV for the rest of the day. And I hate soaps.”Why bother when it’s always going to be like this?” I thought.
It’s not like I haven’t been here before and it was now that my experience started to kick in.
Turning things around
First, I gave myself permission to feel very sorry for myself for a while. I have learned that a short, guilt-free period of feeling very stroppy/very angry/crying really helps me to turn my mood. It’s a kind of mini rock-bottom, from where things can only get better.
Then, after a big glass of water and a nice hot shower, I started to bounce back.
After two years of “running”, I had plenty of credit in the memory bank to draw on. I was reminded that every single time I’ve felt like this, I have gone out a day or two later for some exercise and found that it felt OK! No, I’ve never gone from zero to absolute hero and crush a personal best with the theme tune to Chariots of Fire playing in the background. But I did get back into the groove every time.
I knew that all I had to do was get out of the door the next time and my mood would improve at some point. That’s all. Get out of the door again.
Getting back on the wagon
Anyone who saw me shuffling around on both days wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Both times I was as sweaty as hell. Both times I looked like I was going to collapse at any minute. On neither occasion would an onlooker have been able to tell I was actually running.
But boy, did it feel different! I made a couple of changes (drank more water, went out later in the day, took a shadier route) and my calf didn’t hurt. I won’t say it was easy, because it wasn’t. But I followed my planned workout to the letter and my mind once again accepted that this is an ongoing process. It is not - and never will be - something which has a definite end point.
It’s OK to scale back sometimes
I genuinely believe that it’s OK to scale back and look at the progress you have made if it’s risky to carry on. And in this case it was a done deal; my calf was sore enough that I was worried it might get worse and I was getting dehydrated. There’s no doubt I did the right thing.
But I felt like a big, fat failure.
Sometimes that’s hard to swallow and this getting fitter lark just seems like a never ending burden. I know, though, that if I drop it, I pick up a burden of a different kind. Stiff joints, listlessness, even worse feelings of failure.
I also know that if I keep going, my mood will lift and I won’t have lost anything in the meantime.
This time, the feeling that I was back at square 1 took me by surprise. I thought I was further along than that mentally. I thought I was immune to it, but I’m not.
The feeling of failure can hit anyone at any time. Often it gets you just when you least expect it - and quite often it’s got nothing to do with actual progress.
But then again, a wonderful feeling of strength and independence that comes from just trying to do this can also hit at any time.
So let’s keep on getting out there. On any given occasion , we can feel good, bad or indifferent but as long as we keep going we ARE making progress, even if it’s difficult to see that sometimes.
This is the point!
My experience of persevering meant that l came up with a list of positives that I can really use to my advantage in future ALMOST WITHOUT TRYING! Trust me - it does get easier. And there really is success in failure.