EMBRACE THE STRUGGLE
Today I ran for the first time since Monday. It was by no means easy, or what I expected at all for that matter. And that's perfectly okay, because I had an absolute blast falling in love with running all over again. I walked into the gym at 4:30 a.m. with adjusted, but still incredibly high expectations for how my first run back would go. Yes it would be hard. Yes I would have to go slower than normal. You get the idea. However, despite going in already knowing what it's like to come back to running after a short hiatus/injury, a part of me couldn't help but want to run 6 miles.
And now that I think about it, coming back from an injury is completely different than just coming back from a break/vacation/short hiatus. My first run back from Las Vegas (after 4 days of no running/working out) was an incredibly difficult 6 miler. But, when I messed up my hip/pelvis this past summer, my first run back was like 2 or 2 1/2 miles. Big difference. And not just a physical difference, but a mental difference as well.
Coming back to running (or really anything) after a short break can make you feel excited, giddy, and ready to give every ounce of yourself to the process. That feeling is absolutely present as well when it comes to getting back into something after an injury. However, there is always going to be that small part of you that questions if your body is really "ready" to come back at 100%. On a subconscious level, that's for sure where I was at this morning. My legs were itching to run fast and long, but a part of me wasn't sure that that was the best idea on Day 1.
So, I played it safe and ran at 6.2 mph for the entire 3 miles. Words cannot even begin to describe how amazing it felt to run almost pain free. I was smiling and really getting into music I was listening to and overall just having the best time. Yeah for some random reason my glutes felt super tight this morning, but I didn't let that stop me from really getting into the zone and making this first run back a good one. Naturally, the minute I finished running a stepped off the treadmill for a drink of water before my incline walking that tightness got a ten time worse.
And that's when the phrase, "Embrace the Struggle" popped into my mind. Because honestly, what else is there to do in a situation like this or any situation that tests your strength and determination? Obviously, it's only human nature to want/need things to be easy in a situation like this. Especially when there are other stressors in your life aside from injury/time away from the thing that you love most. I mean, the running was supposed to be the hard part...not the incline walking!
The longer I walked and the steeper the incline got...the more I repeated this phrase to myself. And as I repeated this phrase I couldn't help but make the connection between struggle and strength. Sometimes you have to struggle in the present in order to be successful/stronger in the future. It sounds blatantly obvious, but for me it felt like the light bulb finally turned on and everything made sense.
So far, this semester has been chock full of struggle...inside and outside of the gym. And I'm sure there will be more struggles to come during the rest of 2018. However, going through what I've gone through this so far this year has only made me realize just how strong I can be if I take the time to believe in myself and believe that everything will work out in the end. You know the phrase, "Everything Happens for a Reason"? That could not be a more accurate description of what I am trying to get at when I say embrace the struggle.
I know it sounds cheesy, and it's definitely easier said than done, but once you take on this perspective...everything that's happening just sort of makes sense. You realized that being happy/positive is a choice (shout out to my online positive psychology class for completely changing my perspective on challenges/obstacles in life) and just how simple it can be to choose to be happy. More than anything, you realize how many things/people in your life you take for granted.
I have always been the type of person to use the gym/lifting/running as an outlet for dealing with any type of stress or just as a way to get out all of the emotions that I have bottled up. And I'm not saying that's the wrong approach, but now looking back, it almost feels like avoiding the struggle rather than embracing it. And it lead me to take working out and running for granted. Like that it would always be there whenever I was going through shit. And that just isn't the case.
Everyone has stuff in their person life that they're struggling with, and the majority of it probably isn't fitness related. In light of that, I feel it's only appropriate that I share a non-fitness related struggle in my life and how I am embracing it. Although, in all fairness, I have 100% been guilty of using the gym to cope/avoid/even distract me from this struggle.
My best friend. My inspiration/motivation when it comes to fitness/working out/being a better person. It's been something like 6ish weeks since I've seen or talked to her in person. And I have another 3+ months to go until I can do so. That's something like a total of 19 weeks or approximately 5 months. It seems like an incredibly long time to go without someone who you're that close to, who is there for you no matter what, and give the best life advice in the world.
Yet, I went into this assuming that I wouldn't struggle at all. I was starting a new semester of college, taking 3 online classes, working out a ton, applying for big kid jobs, sorta into/dating this guy at the time...I had a whole laundry list of things that I just knew would distract me from the fact that she was gone and I wouldn't be getting to workout out with/see her at the gym every time I went back home. The time was supposed to just fly by. Yet, here we are only like a third of the way through things...and I have struggled so much more than I could have possibly imagined.
More than anything, I struggled because I no longer had someone else in my life who belived in me and was always willing to push me to get outside my comfort zone. It was essentially all on me now...and that scared the shit out of me. Like just because I know basically the life advice she would give me if she were here to give it, doesn't mean I'm actually gonna be able to make myself follow it.
And on the super tough days, like getting that first text and last weekend when I got my first text and last weekend when I got my first letter...I felt like I was letting her down when I got super emotional. Like, her she is being super strong/inspirational in boot camp and here I am falling apart over a bad test score or workout or a breakup. I struggled to find the positive in not having my best friend around for such a long period of time.
Now that I've taken on this new attitude/perspective I realize this is my chance to develop/grow/get stronger as a person, a friend, a student, an athlete. Any time I feel like giving up during a workout or something is too scary/outside my comfort zone...literally all I have to do is read the letter she sent me and remind myself that just because she isn't here doesn't mean she's not rooting for me. And I know that there are going to be days when I'm not super strong and I do get emotional thinking about all the fun times we had and all the crazy shit we talked about at the gym. And I'm embracing that too, because nobody's perfect.
Moral of the story: Embracing your struggles and facing them head on = huge increases in strength. It's also really difficult, emotionally taxing, and doesn't happen over night. However, I challenge you (as I have challenged myself) to take any situation and stress you're dealing with right now and try to look at a from a different perspective. Can you learn something from it? What are the positives/pros of it? Are you actively choosing to make the best of things?