We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Friday, September 7, 2012

running down my perfectionism

ASICS GT 2170 Women's Running shoes in "Storm".  On my computer screen they look electric pink, but are really more of a purple/violet.  I just LOVE them!  It is strange that I'd be so excited about a pair of running shoes, because I have always disliked sweating in general, and running in particular.  However, that has changed significantly in the past few months.

It all began back in mid-June when the Arkan-Sass 5 came for a visit.  Arkan-Sass Auntie is VERY FIT.  She exercises regularly - and seriously.  Tennis, Zumba, Elliptical, etc.  So, why I thought I could ever keep up with her when my exercise routine has been basically limited to brisk walking for years, I have no idea.  I was determined that whatever she was doing for exercise, I'd try, too.

When she told me she wanted to start running, I almost cried.  But I decided to at least give it a try.

The first day was pathetic!  And the second.  And the third.  You get the idea.

That was 12 weeks ago, and I'm still running.  A Auntie was using the "Couch 2 5k" program, so I've continued that.  I'd love to run a 5k, but really my ultimate goal is to be able to go out and run a few miles several times a week.  (In the meantime, she has completed the program, and run her 5k...with a personal best time of 28 minutes and 7 seconds!  I had to slow down my training due to slight injury - nothing major, just what one would expect when you haven't seriously exercised in years.)

If someone had told me, even in May, that I'd be on my way to becoming a runner, I really would not have believed it possible!  I'm an unlikely candidate with back and knee aches - not to mention being extremely out of shape.  But the small victories provided by C25k have been a real encouragement!  I highly recommend the program.

You can get a cheap app for iPhone or Android to guide you through the program.  Very helpful!  We tried timing the interval ourselves the first day and it was tricky; whereas, the app keeps the time and uses voice cues to let you know when to run or walk.  It also will play music from your playlists.

Of course this much activity combined with closely watching what I eat, initially using Weight Watchers, has shed a lot of fat.  A Auntie suggested the MyFitnessPal app and website as a great tool for keeping track of food.  After using it for about 2 months, I agree.

The other thing that has made all the difference?  Having a running partner.  At first it was Arkan-Sass Auntie, but once they went home I had to run a few times by myself.  It was OK, but Erik decided to run with me and that is a great help!  We get to chat a little bit and he encourages me...and has good suggestions!  And he always has something positive to say - even on my most discouraging days.

For people who are long-time runners, I know this is not exciting news, but for me it is almost revolutionary.

But there is something more, only a little more, I want to say about this new routine: it has taught me a great lesson, the lesson of "small victories".  As a perfectionist, the small victories have more often seemed to expose the greater failures.  Or at least as a perfectionist, that is all I could see.

That first day we ran, I felt like a real failure.  I was purple-faced, felt like vomiting and my muscles were burning.  How would I ever be ready to run again in 2 days?  How would I ever make it 3 miles (3.1 miles = 5k)?  How?

At this point I could focus on what I couldn't do (run with ease, and look good while doing it) or I could focus on what I did do.  I had FINISHED the run!

Still, my muscles were so sore by our next run day, I just couldn't imagine running.  But A Auntie encouraged me to just give it a try.  She promised that once the muscles got warmed up and the endorphins started flowing, I'd feel fine.  And she was right.  Amazingly, it was even a *little* bit easier than the first day.  And the third day was a little bit easier than the second.

Each week I've looked at the length of time (it increases each week) and thought, "I just don't think I can make it."  Yet, somehow (almost) each week I have.  And on those weeks I didn't quite make the new goal, I celebrated the fact that I was STILL running.  My pace was improving.  My cardiovascular was stronger...and I was still getting up 3 days a week to hit the pavement.  That is one of the beauties of programs like C25K:  it helps you to see progress in little increments...and pushes you just enough to meet new goals.  It gives you small victories.

I've learned to look for the small victories.  In fact, I set them up for myself.  When I'm running up a particularly hard hill instead of looking at the top I look for small "milestones" along the way (rocks, cracks, signs, mailboxes).  Literally, repeating in my mind, "Just get to the second mailbox, just get to the second mailbox."  And then, "Just get to that spot of sun, just get to that spot of sun."  You get the point.   

I can make it to the top of that hill, now!

Homeschooling is a lot like this.  I've got to look at the small victories of each day and praise those. While it is good to have a big goal in mind, it is the small victories that give me the encouragement to keep going.  The child who struggles in math has a successful day - Victory!  The slow reader who finally reads a whole story on her own - Victory!  The preschooler who finally remembers it is 3, 4, FIVE, 6 - Victory!  Rather than focusing on the three previous bad math days.  Or thinking that the slow reader will NEVER get past level 2 readers.  Or being frustrated that the preschooler is still forgetting that it is 7, EIGHT, 9, 10.

Recently I read a funny quote about running.  A man was in a running store comparing shoes to help improve his speed and performance.  The "pro" helping him said to him, "The best way to improve your running is just to move your feet."  Don't get hung up on finding the perfect pair of shoes (or curriculum), the perfect training plan (or teacher's planning pages), the perfect course (or co-op), just MOVE YOUR FEET.....