It’s the start of summer, a good time to make a goal or two. A few years ago I used the summer to train for a running race in July, the Bix 7. I started running when I was 37 and found it to be far more challenging than biking or swimming. I worked at it for a couple of years and managed to reach the point where I could pretty effortlessly run 12 minute miles. I know that sounds pretty pokey to the regular runner, but for me, it was a real accomplishment. I genuinely felt proud.
Once I reached that point, I decided to try to run the Bix. Over that summer I focused exclusively on running, doing nothing else. I did a lot of speed and hill work and by the end of the summer, was able to run 10 minute miles pretty consistently. Man did that feel good. It was measureable progress. It was clear that the work had paid off. It was a testament to a good training plan. I was really proud. I remember thinking on one really good run in late August, "Man I’ve got this running thing under control." I said to myself, "I feel great and I can honestly say, I will never run a mile slower that 12 minutes in my life again."
Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves. ~Emily Bronte
Fast forward 4 years. Knee surgery and osteoarthritis have slowed me considerably. Yesterday I ran a third of a mile at a 13 minute pace. It wasn’t the lack of cardio strength that has slowed me down, but the twinging and swelling of a dysfunctional knee that stopped me after 300 strides. I came home, took my meds and hobbled around. Today it is better, but I have no illusions. The road back to running may take longer than a summer. I am taking no chances this time. I will go slowly and carefully. And if and when I run a 5K again, it will be with true gratitude.
I have let my stubbornness and pride overrule good sense for many years. I have been willing to work out to excess, to ignore legitimate pain, and to face doubts with no more than a momentary pause. But in the end, this stubbornness was stupid. This year I have learned that my pride, something we all experience in accomplishment, is also a double-edged sword. Pride is the emotion of the past. It is a reward for work well done. It is an emotion of the present. It keeps us going and helps us overcome adversity. But pride does not live in the future. It does not make the days to come somehow easier or more successful. Pride makes no promises.
So today I am grateful for this lesson. I now know that my ability now says nothing about what I will be able to do tomorrow. It is this knowledge that motivates me to go to the gym without procrastination. Because today is all I have. There’s no promise of tomorrow. And if tomorrow is somehow better, I will greet that gift with humility and gratitude.
This video got me out the door today: