Humble Re-Beginnings

I fell over in yoga today, and it wasn’t even that tough of a pose.

I’m slowly getting back into a routine of exercising, and it isn’t going all that well. This is stuff hard. Really hard. Not that long ago that I was super strong at all this — I could run really far! And balance on one foot! And do more than one pushup in a row! And now I… can’t. Not yet anyway.

After training for three full marathons in twelve months, I burned out in a big way. The mental, physical, dietary, and time commitment of a marathon cannot be understated. 26.2 requires everything you’ve got. EVERYTHING. Your energy. Your social life. Your ability to make small talk with nonrunners. All of it. No excuses. You give your all, or you fail.

And I gave it happily! Well, mostly happily anyway. Running is (usually) fun, and training is (usually) a positive experience, and I (usually) like doing all of it. 2016 was a challenging year on almost all levels, and training gave me a constant space of control. I know how to prepare for a marathon. There’s a plan and an order and a spreadsheet! Whatever other chaos was happening in my life, I had this part down.

But everything has a limit, and I simply overdid. A hard reset, both physical and mental, was necessary. My muscles needed rest and my brain needed freedom, and now I’m fumbling my way through a new start. I’m doing a little running and some yoga and a few easy hikes, but my biggest struggles are my own expectations. I remember doing these same tasks recently and doing them well, and it’s humbling and frustrating to admit that right now I can’t.

So here I am, getting red-faced and sweaty after running only a few minutes and toppling over in yoga class. This is my reality. Today. Here. Now.

I’ve done this enough times to know that this feeling isn’t permanent. I’ll bumble through these awkward workouts and remind my body how to be a body. Like everything else, this is part of the process. Feeling weak now only reminds me of how recently I was strong, and that I’m capable of being that strong again.

But while I’m here, I’m doing my best to embrace it. Marathoning isn’t a personality trait or a genetic advantage or a predestined achievement. It’s a decision — a series of decisions, rather — to commit to a goal and accept a lot of discomfort in order to accomplish something bigger. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll run another full marathon, so for now I’m making my peace with where I am now — this sweaty, wobbly, frustrating, and entirely worthwhile place.

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