In trying to become a runner, I’m using The Starting Line as a guide. After a couple of months, I’m still somewhere between steps 1 and 2. And that’s okay.
Whether it’s this plan, one you get from a friend, or one from a personal trainer, it’s important to remember that these are guides. Our bodies are all unique, and it’s up to us to know our true limitations, and not what we either want them to be, or what we convince ourselves that they are.
At the beginning of the year, I’d have told you my limitation was pretty much a trip to the grocery store. By the time I walked all the way around the store and then carried the groceries up to the second floor, I was too exhausted to do anything else for the rest of the day. Or, you know, week. I know now that this was a false limitation. I felt tired, therefore that must be all that I can do. I know now that a little bit more each day beyond what I think I can do is what helps me improve. (For what it’s worth, I’ve improved to the point where I admit that I giggled a little when my husband complained about walking “all the way back” to the other side of the store for something, and offered to go get it for him. Before, I had him fetching things for me all the time.)
I’ve also learned that there are limits, and my body will tell me when I hit them. I know, for example, that if I try to do a mile when I have a severe sinus infection, I will pass out. But my mind says, “Skip the workout completely, you’re too sick.” My body knows that’s a false limitation. I can’t do a mile, but I can do a half mile, or lift, or cycle so that I’m already sitting down if I get dizzy. I can work out at home so that if I do feel faint, I can stop and rest without being in anyone’s way (except the cats, but I’m always in their way).
Cheese looking at me reproachfully because I’m in his way.
One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Bach’s Illusions:
Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.
There are enough other people arguing for your limitations already, enough people telling you that you can’t or you’re not good enough or you won’t make it. There are enough other people telling you that you’re not doing enough, that you need to push yourself harder. You can ignore all of that. It’s harder to ignore it when you’re saying it to yourself. Just remind yourself that your limitations are exactly that: YOURS. Only you know what you’re truly capable of, and only you can decide what you’re going to be capable of a month from now, or a year from now, or five years from now. And if your pace is a little slower than some, so what? It’s your pace, and at least you’re going somewhere.