A year ago, I started running. I could run about three blocks. I wish I was kidding, but a mile seemed like a lofty goal. Running was also a generous term to describe what I was doing. Slowly and surely, I was able to run farther (and faster). After about a month I could run two miles without stopping. After that I decided a half marathon would be totally achievable…I would only have to run 10 more consecutive miles than I had ever run at any point in my life. The logic worked in my brain and it would be no problem.
One year and three half marathons later, it really wasn’t that hard. It did take discipline and consistency. Each weekend for seven months, I would run just a little bit longer until I broke into the double digits. Several days a week after work I would run 2-3 miles. My endurance increased. What was once hard, became much easier.
It makes so much sense to me when I think about running. Make a plan and slowly build up endurance. Expecting that determination alone was going to get me through 13.1 miles would be foolish. Yet somehow I expect that with other areas of life.
I wanted to be able to work a full week without getting tired…because other people with years of experience did.
I wanted to feel instantly better after one or two counseling session and have everything resolved.
I wanted to have a full circle of friends after being back in Minnesota for a few weeks.
I wanted to start my life over and feel instantly settled into my life…just skipping over the whole transition part. Life doesn’t really work that way…and when I really stop to think about it, I don’t expect it to.
I didn’t see results instantly, but I kept doing things that I knew were healthy for me. For several weeks the changes were almost imperceptible. Soon the changes started to become fairly obvious.
I can work without finishing a shift completely exhausted. (I am exhausted after being on my feet for 11 hours while working a double shift…I’m told this is because I’m human and we are designed to be tired and need rest after working that long. I can accept that.) Sometimes, I can even stay after work and eat dinner and talk with friends. Because after a few months, I have friends at work.
Counseling hasn’t gotten easier. In some respects it has gotten a lot harder, but the change I’ve seen has been dramatic. Week one, we worked on breathing. I don’t even mean deep breathing or anything fancy…I really mean not holding my breath. I don’t need anyone to remind me to breathe anymore. My life doesn’t come to a stop when anxiety comes. I don’t freeze in the face of criticism. I can manage triggers and stop anxiety before it starts.
I still need a lot of margin in my life, but not quite as much. I need a lot of time to rest and think and just be, but not like I did a few months ago. I have made the right choices. I have been disciplined. Now I am starting to see the results and I am receiving endurance. I have an ability to push through for longer periods of time without becoming exhausted.
Just like with running, rest and recovery will always be a part of continuing to be able to endure. I’ll have to find that balance and not swing too far the other way and become too busy. Right now, I am happy to be where I am, slowly able to handle more in my day to day life.