What's holding you back?
I have arthritis in my feet. Really bad. Running used to be my favorite workout -- I ran the L.A. marathon in 2001. There is no feeling that comes close to hitting my second wind. It takes me 20 minutes to find any wind and pace, another 20 to hit my stride. Then, with my heart pounding and my feet sailing, I can run forever.
Within a year of the marathon I had surgery for a bone spur in my right big toe. Turf toe! I love that name. It sounds so fun and silly. Nope, nothing green or fluffy about it. Just genetics and years of pounding and sadness and pain.
I started running in college. My besties and I went to races all spring for the free food and giveaways -- food, t-shirts, samples, medals! I once came home with an entire loaf of bread! Score! I ran my Best 5K the morning after a terrible hangover. My body rebounded from the depression of alcohol at just. the. right. time. It was amazing. I crossed the finish line in under 24 minutes, a personal best.
I don't run fast -- I run purposefully. It's all about the challenge and my mental health. How can I outdo myself? What grief or stress or happiness can I process and work through one step at a time? I sometimes cry hard while running. And then let it all go when it's over.
I sobbed my heart out over miles on a bike to get through cervical cancer and three miscarriages in 2009-2011, all the while wishing I could just beat up some pavement. Why had my body betrayed me? I take of care of it better than most.
In 2016, I tested the waters with a 5K. But the pain was back, nagging and persistent. A bone spur had formed on my left big toe (turf toe!!!!!) and a piece of the bone broke off, lodging in the space between my big and second toes, pushing that joint over. Surgery a year-and-a-half ago was tough and it took much longer to feel comfortable just walking. Swimming, Pilates, and yoga became my go-tos. But still, I sat at the window watching all my friends go out to play at local races. Sad.
I got a crazy wild hair about a month ago. What if I'm not done? What if my legs still remember how to carry me? Could my immense will to succeed and sheer determination silence these aching feet? What am I so afraid of?
So I put on my coaching hat and had a heart-to-heart with myself. What are the barriers? I'm afraid of pain and getting stranded in someone's neighborhood. How do I overcome this? Start on the treadmill. It's forgiving and flexible surface will absorb some of the downward force and I can stop with the push of a red button. I could also control my pace exactly and precisely time the intervals as I build up my strength and endurance. Two minutes walk, two minutes run. Repeat. Just see how it goes.
Four weeks later, I'm all in. The first couple of runs were difficult. What isn't? But after a few weeks, there's no pain. THERE'S NO PAIN!!!!! (Knocking on wood.) Is it the endorphins, or the simple act of moving that's known to ease arthritis pain and stiffness? I really don't know. What I do know is that I don't care. It's on. I'm back... for now. And I'm thankful for the opportunity.
As you're thinking about your goals, can you identify what's holding you back? How can you move through these obstacles? What are your options -- there's always a few. Where can you get the support you need to be successful? This is the starting line, and there's nowhere to go but forward.