If you have been following me on any form of social media, you have seen the hashtag #30day10k approximately 30 times. I challenged myself to complete a 10k run and dedicated 30days during the month of October to train for it. Reflecting back on the month, this is what I learned:
1) Fitness is a mental game, not a physical one.
I will be the first to admit that I was never into a regular exercise routine. Long dog walks, weekend family hikes and daily activities (swimming, gymnastics, playground, danceparties) with my toddler were the extent of it. I - or rather, my ego - always told myself I just wasn't athletic.
What I realized this month is, given the appropriate training schedule, my physical body responded perfectly. Turns out, I am athletic! I got stronger and faster - more fit. My athleticism was not the problem. My mind was! My ego, rather. Sometimes if my run wasn't going so well, my ego would jump in and be working overtime, ranting and raving trying to get me to stop. Just stop. You're tired! Just walk. Please! Ugh this sucks. And look, it's starting to rain! You don't want to get wet. Maybe you should call your husband to come rescue you from the rain. This hurtsss. Ow. Stop. Walk! Now. Pleeeeeease.
But meditation has taught me to step back from the ego. Its sole purpose is to keep you small and weak. So instead of giving in, I kept running and observed my ego and marvelled at how ridiculous it became. Calling my husband to ask for a ride because it was raining out?! Ridiculous. If you can separate yourself from that nasty little voice in your head and realize that it's not YOU, you can laugh at it, forge onward, and overcome it!
2) Peer pressure can be a good thing.
If I am being completely honest, I am not confident I would have followed through and kept up with my training if I didn't have some social pressure holding me accountable. Yes, I brought it on myself, and sometimes I cursed it, but in the end it solidified my commitment and created a group of people who were rooting for me and kept me true to my word. And boy am I glad I had that.
If you have a goal or a dream that you really want to achieve but are afraid your ego might take hold and you might flake off, tell people about it! Make yourself accountable to them. It's easy to weasel your way out of a run and justify your way into cuddling on the couch in comfy sweats, but where does that get you? What does that achieve? How do you grow if you don't challenge yourself? Build up a group of people who will keep you on track and true to your goals.
3) Pain is temporary.
As I was crossing the finish line of my race, a dude was holding a sign that said "Pain is temporary, your finish time posted online is forever". That was good for a chuckle when my legs were about to buckle, but I kept coming back to that and thinking about it afterwards.
Pain IS temporary. Yet we all avoid it like the plague! But with pain comes a little bit more experience and a little more growth. When you come out the other side of the pain, you are a tiny bit different. You are that much more able to cope and adapt; you have a slightly different perspective and more self confidence. You know you can survive pain - hooray!
Being in the pregnancy and birth & labour field, I have talked to maaaany pregnant women who are positively gripped by the fear of labour. The idea of the pain they'll be in having their babies is more than they can bear! But the next time I have that conversation with a terrified pregnant woman, I will tell her that that pain gives your personality a little more strength and grit. You will certainly survive it, and you'll be that much stronger for it.
While running the longer distances with my legs feeling like lead and wanting to rest, I would reminded myself of the near 24hrs of labour I endured, and how I freakin' OWNED those contractions and got through each one stronger than the last. Turned out, my labour pains helped me cope with my running pains. I'd tell myself: I survived that and I'll survive this.
Pain is temporary, but the experience and determination you acquire from it is forever.