Do you ever have one of those weeks or months where it just feels like your fitness isn’t there? Maybe the same pace feels harder, you fatigue more quickly, or your muscles feel weaker.
After experiencing the ups and downs fill the weeks of recovery from injury, my fitness level is not where I want it to be. There’s no use bemoaning lost fitness – rather, it’s time to take actionable steps to improve my running.
I’m not saying that to complain, get pity, or to denigrate myself – it’s simply an objective statement.
My weight, my mileage, my pace – at the end of the day, those are objective pieces of data. They mean nothing in regard to what sort of human person I am: whether I work hard or am lazy, whether I am compassionate or selfish, whether I am smart or ignorant.
My self-worth – yours – is not measured by miles or pounds. Plain and simple. Miles, pounds, paces, race times – those are all external measures of a particular facet of life. Of a hobby and a passion. Self-worth emerges from your recognition of intrinsic dignity that each and every person possesses.
I understand that some people struggle to separate these objective numbers from their self-worth, but I want to preface this post by saying (a) you are worth so much more than your running, (b) running doesn’t define you and (c) I personally strive to keep objective facts from weighing in on my self-confidence.
That’s not to say that I’m not always thrilled or eager to weigh myself, but whether I weight 125 or 140 pounds does not change who I am as a person.
So when I say I want to improve my running fitness, I’m not saying anything negative. I’m simply stating a desire, a goal, an outcome for which I must take actions to achieve.
If you take anything away from today’s post as I think out loud about goals, actions, and running, take that with you. You are far more than any external metric that measures your fitness or health.
So anyway: when I find myself not at the level of fitness I wish to be at, getting upset about it, wishing I was more faster or my endurance was where it was a couple months ago, or pinching my waistline isn’t going to change things.
Action changes things. So when you’re not pleased with something (for the sake of specificity and brevity, running), you take the steps to change it. While life is messy and rarely simple, change can be boiled down to that: if you don’t like something, change it, and to change it, you need to take specific and intentional action.
I do Pilates a couple times a week, although I’ve taper off to really once a week recently, and beyond that I sort of slacked on core specific work as of late. I reasoned, general strength training will work my core, hiking will work my core, so I’m good.
But between our backpacking trip at Goat Lake a few weeks back (when I whined like a baby for having a measly 15 lb backpack for an easy hike) and easing back into running after my sprained foot and a week off due to being overly cautious (which is good!) about my hamstring, I realized that my core strength was lacking based on my personal desire. I felt my core fatigue more quickly on runs this week after a week off, and even if it is simply just getting back into the groove, I didn’t want to wait or complain.
Intentional actions lead to change, so action I took. I snuck in some extra planks after Pilates on Monday, and then grabbed the stability ball and added in some focused core exercises to my strength training on Tuesday night. I wrote it into my training plan, I did the workout, and I will continue to do it to build back up my core strength and improve my running.
Of course, my training doesn’t affect your life. Who really cares beyond me whether my core strength or mileage meets my goal? I’m one of millions of runners.
However, how you train does affect your life. If you aren’t happy with some aspect of your running, fitness, or nutrition – take the actionable steps to change it, starting today.
Want to run a marathon? Register for one (optimally at least 16-20 weeks away), hire a coach, and start training.
Want to eat a more nutritionally balanced diet? Go to the grocery store and buy nutritious foods, find some recipes that appeal to you, and eat them.
Want to stop skipping your summer runs because of the heat? Set your alarm early, lay out your clothes, and run in the morning before the heat sets in.
Like my friend Jesica said on her blog yesterday, all it take is 20 minutes. You don’t need a complicated action plan or a huge end goal in mind; just dedicate a short frame of time each day to take those actionable steps.
Actions, over the course of days and weeks, breed habits. Habits beget change. Change jolts you out of a plateau and brings you closer to achieving your goals, whatever they may be.
What’s a current goal you have for your running right now?
What actionable steps are you taking to achieve a goal right now?
What prevents you from making a change?