Progress and Momentum

We have a storage ottoman that holds all of our extra throw blankets. There are actually too many to fit in the ottoman. On the days I wash them all and put them back in there, the thing won’t close. I smoosh the blankets down and usually throw something heavy on the top for a day, like a full laundry basket. After the lid has been forced closed for a bit, it squooshes (that’s a technical term, in case you’re wondering) all of the air out of the blankets and the ottoman stays closed on it’s own.

The problem is that this time of year, we get blankets out a lot. Once you leave it open without all of the blankets for a bit, it undoes the squooshing. You have to basically start all over again.

I was thinking about this in terms of my running the other day. Before this year I’ve attempted training for 3 half-marathons and one full-marathon. That’s four different long-term running schedules that I’ve abandoned after the race. That’s 3 different races that I’ve had to start training for from scratch. Starting all over again. If you count this last half-marathon, then that’s actually FOUR times starting over. Then factor in all of the other programs I’ve tried since 2006, Shred, Zumba, Kickboxing ect. Basically? I’ve gotten that ottoman to stay closed about a dozen times in the last six years. Only to then dump all of the blankets out for one cold night.

That was never my intention OF COURSE. Don’t we all start those programs and say, “THIS TIME IT WILL STICK.” And does it? Well…hopefully eventually it will. And that’s where I’m at now.

When my race was over I feared losing that progress. It just gets harder and harder to start over as I get more and more depressed about it. But this time I made it further than ever before in terms of my training. I found that the second the race was over, the fear of losing that momentum took over me. I’ve not put more than one day between my runs ever since.

The thing is, that 6 years has taught me that it only takes removing ONE BLANKET to make closing that damn ottoman again impossible the next time you try to pack it full. So I find myself constantly in fear of putting more than one day between runs because I fear that will be that one blanket out. And then, since I can’t get the damn thing closed, I’ll just take them all out and the next thing I know they’re all spread around the house and the animals are dirtying them up so NOW they all need to be washed before I could ever think about trying to fit them all back in the ottoman again.

(I’m taking this metaphor too far, aren’t I? Probably has something to do with FREEZING MY ASS OFF this winter.)

So I’ve kept it up. I’m meeting my running group several times a week. There are enough people in that group that at least one person is wanting to run any of the nights I do. And they’re all signing up for more races to motivate themselves to stick with running. Me? I’m doing the Oak Barrel Half in April. I’m also thinking about doing a trail race some time this Spring. Anything to encourage me to keep the momentum.

Just. Keep. Running.

Do I struggle? Yeah. This week I’ve been porking out a lot so the runs are harder as I’m full and heavy and groggy. But I’ll be honest, the temptation to skip runs? Is not that strong. It’s there, and probably if no one was meeting me it would be harder to ignore, but the fear of losing this progress that I feel like I’ve worked towards for five years? The fear of losing all of that hard work has turned out to be quite a motivator.

I’ve made it past the blisters and the black toenails. The sore knees and the shin splints. All of those hurdles that pop up early in training as your body gets used to the new regiment. I never made it past that phase before. I never made it far enough into the habit of distance running to actually get past all of those things. Even more reason not to backtrack.

Now, if only I could find a way to cement progress like that with my eating habits. Because I’ll go a week with no anxiety-fueled bins and ruin that progress one one night stressing over emails with 2 bowls of frosted mini-wheats and a jar of peanuts.

(I told you my binges were boring.)


8 thoughts on “Progress and Momentum”

  1. I ran with a group for years. I loved the people, and I loved the accountability. I trained for all my marathons with that group, and know I couldn’t have done it without them. (All of this was BC, before children, and I miss it). I’m glad you’ve found a way to keep it up. There’s nothing like the natural high of a good run — and nothing better than sharing it with another runner.

  2. Once again, this is such an encouragement to me. And it so fully explains my fear – I’ve started over SO. MANY. TIMES. (the worst was after training and running a half – starting over from square one felt like such a defeat) that I’m scared to start.

    I’m scared of stupid stuff – like being the slowest runner in the group. Or worse – the fattest.

    I ran 2 miles on a treadmill yesterday. That means I need to run tomorrow. And I think I will. And maybe I’ll just keep doing it every other day, because you are SO RIGHT about the blankets.

    Anyway, thanks again.

    1. When I started my running class at Fleet Feet I was the same way: Slowest, Clumsiest (I like to fall a lot), least amount of endurance…I just knew that I’d be the one walking on all of the long runs…it was TERRIBLE. But I did fine. And there were people who did better than me on some days and people who did worse. I think that’s why I signed up for another class, so I can start this one sans fear :) Hang in there, and the offer still stands to run with us! I think I may take a “beginner” group up for a 3-mile trail run at Monte Sano soon, it will be walk/jog, if you want to try that!

  3. This is a really great post. I suffer from the same thing. I’ve run 3 halfs and then quietly hibernated for some period of time afterwards.

    The first time it was a LONG hibernation due to quite a few life events.

    This time I only hibernated for 6 weeks. It was truly necessary to get through the holidays and give myself a mental/physical break.

    You are doing a great job staying motivated! Good luck!

  4. I am SO FREAKING PROUD of you. I can’t wait to be in a place where I can join a running group too. It would be awesome to have people to run with. Of course I’m terrified to be the only one who needs walking breaks… but I’m SO willing to be that girl for a while.

  5. I hope to someday be where you are with boot camp and running. I have joined at least 3 gyms in my life and let those memberships go. I think I have found my place with NOBO and HABC! You are such an inspiration and motivator! You go girl!! Can’t wait to be part of your beginner trail runner group! :-)

  6. The endorphins generated by running (or other exercise) can help get you through the post-holiday and winter blahs, so not allowing much time between runs is really a good thing.

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