I’m a first-born. And an over-achiever. Not to mention a people pleaser. I’m also Catholic. Mix all that together and what do you get? Someone who has a hard time standing up for herself and when she does, she feels guilty about it. Someone who just does. not. like. letting people down, or having people disapprove of a decision she’s made, or be displeased with her. Ever.
Yeah, I’ve been working on that. For almost forty years. Step by step, I’m making headway.
About three weeks ago I got talked into participating in the From Couch to 5K program at my YMCA.
For those who don’t know, From Couch to 5K is a ten-week long program designed to prepare non-runners (here I am, waving my arms, non-runner over here!) to run a 5K race. Starting with a five minute walk followed by a two minute jog followed by another five minute walk, the program gradually builds the time spend jogging until the final week, when you jog for thirty minutes straight.
Ugh, I’m getting palpitations just re-reading that phrase: “jog for thirty minutes straight.”
Actually, the first three weeks really weren’t all that bad. I enjoy my solo Saturday morning runs and quickly found that I can run for a minute or two longer than the scheduled times, and then run again for another three or four minutes. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but keep in mind that I am That Girl who, in high school, begged the gym teacher to pleeeeeeeeeease let me stop and retie my shoes during the timed mile run because my lungs were on fire.
All of that progress was very exciting for me. This week, however, my body started to rebel. For the past year and change, I’ve been working out three days a week – yoga, Pilates, and a half an hour on the elliptical. Now I’ve added three days of running to that regimen, and my back is not happy.
Tuesday was rainy, so instead of jogging on the trail, we worked out on treadmills. Our trainer did what she’s supposed to do and encouraged us, and pushed me to jog faster to better mimic running outside. My normal response would be to suck it up, begrudgingly increase my speed, and jog faster while whining inside my head. On Tuesday, I decided that that wasn’t going to work for me. And I said just that – “No, that doesn’t work for me.” The trainer looked at me and tried to lay a guilt trip on me, but I just shrugged and kept jogging at my slow pace. Then she suggested that I increase the incline to (again) better simulate jogging outside. To humor her, I raised the incline to 1.5. My lower back quickly voiced its displeasure. I lowered the treadmill's incline back down to zero and said that magic phrase once again – “That’s just not working for me.”
It felt so good.
I know, I know, sticking up for myself to a trainer when participating in a running program is hardly revolutionary.
But for what might be the first time since I can remember, I listened to my body and instead of pushing myself further, I drew a boundary. And stuck to it.
That felt good.
I might not stick with this From Couch to 5K program, but I will definitely stick with listening to my body (physically and emotionally), drawing appropriate boundaries, and sticking to them.