Changing My Expectations

About three months ago I temporarily lost my mind.

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I don’t know what happened. I was having a bad day at work and a friend of mine happened to share with me on Facebook that she was running this race with her dad and brother and wondered if I wanted to run with them.  The next thing I knew my credit card was out and they had my money.  No turning back!

The problem was … I registered for this race on January 23rd.  It was probably snowing at the time.  And then it snowed again.  And again.  And again and again and again and it never stopped and there was no way I could safely run outside.

So I hopped on the treadmill.

I’m generally not a huge fan of running on the treadmill.  I did it a lot in college, but I was in much better running shape and for some reason I could run faster and time moved quicker.  But now?  Ugh.  My pace isn’t what it once was (which drives me crazy) and I usually end up burning out because I start out running too fast.

Apparently you don’t run as fast at 30 as you did at 18.

So I did the only thing I could do.  I started slow.

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If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen a lot of my progress.  I literally started by running 2 miles and started working my way up from there.  I set aside the time to run and did a halfway decent job of keeping up with it.  I increased my “long” runs by one mile each week, always doing the runs on Mondays (my day off at the church) so that I knew I wouldn’t get interrupted by anything.

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Some days I ran better than others. I found that when I started with a really slow pace I was able to get into a good groove. I also had weekly (sometimes twice-weekly) gym dates with a friend of mine and we did a lot of weights and strength training. I finally started listening to all of the people who have told me for years that you need strong legs in order to run and really tried to trust the training process.

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If this sounds like one of those Cinderella stories, I’m afraid it’s not! Because this was where things kind of started to break down, ha! I went on vacation after I did my 8-mile week and I did not run once. Then I got sick the week before Palm Sunday and then … well .. Holy Week and Easter happened.

I was so frustrated with myself because I HAD been doing so well and it seemed like I had taken a few giant steps back! And – alongside that – I was getting nervous because the race was coming and I no longer felt like I was going to be ready.

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So … I tried.

I put on my running shoes, charged my garmin and hit the pavement for my first outdoor running since the Turkey Trot back in November.  I went out with low expectations, just being grateful for the ability to run.  I figured it I ran 3 miles, great!  But I ended up running more – I fell into a stride and just enjoyed the run.

This is why I used to run!  When I was in college I ran for me.  I ran because it felt good.  I ran because it was something my friends and I could do together.  I ran because at the end of a long day it felt good to run off my stress.  I ran because it was a good way to wake myself up at an all-nighter.

There were no running blogs written by running bloggers who run way faster than I will ever be able to run.  There were no garmins telling me how fast (well – slow) I was running.  There were no races that I was stressing out about.  I ran because I wanted to and that was enough for me.

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I started to think about how our connected world has changed our expectations of ourselves.  No longer can we go for a run, now we post about that run and have the ability to compare ourselves to others.  No longer can we throw our kids a birthday party, it has to look as pinterest-worthy as our facebook friends.  No longer can we just say “hey, I’m pregnant!” or “hey, we’re engaged!” we have to figure out a cutesy way to announce it.

It’s too much.

I want to run because I want to run.  Not because I want to keep up with someone, or beat them or cross the finish line faster than someone else.  I want to run because it makes me feel strong and I enjoy doing it.

I write this post for two reasons …

1. Pray for me on May 9th!  Ha – I’m certainly going to need it.  But I had kind of an “a-ha!” moment where I realized I needed to focus on the fun side of the weekend (the getaway with Bruce, the pretty course, the chance to get in a long exercise session) and not the part where I’m stressed about the distance.

2. Change your expectations.  Be who YOU are.  Be who God created YOU to be.  Don’t look at everyone else around you and think you need to adhere to some sort of mold that doesn’t work for you.  Who you are is enough … always.

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