Sunday, August 22, 2010

On progress, and growing one year older...

Tomorrow I turn 29... sooo only one year left before I move up the age-group brackets.  I'm kinda doing the "omg I'm almost 30" crisis a bit, but also this is definitely the best shape I've ever been in in my life, which is helping.  All in all I have to say I'm pretty happy about where I am right now health-wise... my early 20s were troubled with a lot of negativity and poor food choices and alcohol and general lethargy and depression, so it does feel good to look back on that and see how far I've come.  I never in my craziest wildest dreams thought I would have been running at all, let alone running a marathon.  I just wasn't into fitness.

Some health-related musings I've been having as I've thought about all of this:

  • Feeling like a victim (of life, of circumstance, of chance, of other people) leads to treating yourself like a victim (feeding yourself poorly, not exercising, etc).  Negative thoughts breed a negative lifestyle.  I still am reminded of this sometimes... feeling mopey about work or other things definitely reduces my desire to eat good meals and stick with the scheduled runs.  But I think I'm much better at forcing myself to do those things regardless of how I feel. 
  • Surrounding yourself with active friends is a real motivator.  And the reverse is true:  spending a lot of time hanging out with or dating people who don't make fitness and healthy eating a priority can cause you to weaken your own commitment to yourself.  It's become so important to me to have active friends.
  • When you start leading a more active and positive lifestyle it almost attracts other active, positive people to you--I'm amazed at how this continues to happen.  And there really does seem to be a direct connection between "active" and "positive."
  • If you follow a training plan loyally, your "average" non-athlete body can suddenly start doing things you didn't think it was capable of.  (Like running 15.4 miles! haha)
  • It's easier than it seems to stop making excuses and stick with something.  Running has taught me a lot about commitment and tenacity.  So many people start working out and just stop because life interferes... and it's easy to let life interfere.  But this IS your life, and you can get that hour for running from somewhere else --watch an hour less of tv, cut some corners each day if you have to, get 15 minutes less of sleep... all of that adds up.  It's all about making your workouts a significant priority.  And once you see progress in your abilities, you get more motivated to stick with it because you don't want to LOSE that progress.  For me it took about 2 weeks of forcing myself to stick with the c25k to let me see enough results that I wanted to keep going.  I stuck with it in spite of candidacy exams, in spite of rocky relationships, in spite of family problems and other work stress.
  • I met my friend L. for coffee last night, and she was saying that as we age, physical appearance might decrease but mental health and stability DEFINITELY increases--so i should be looking forward to my 30s as a great decade of possible happiness and stability.  And I think a small part of me might actually be excited about that--excited about the future.  I have all this possibility to do things I never thought I could do--I might do a triathlon, even.   
  • For so long I felt like I was an outsider to the "athlete" world because I simply wasn't athletic or wasn't "good at sports," and I always felt like no amount of effort would make me able to do things I thought I wasn't able to do or automatically good at.  But it is within my power to make decisions to become a part of whatever world I feel like being a part of.  That sounds like motivational crap, but seriously.  Running has given me new faith that I can be the person I want to be instead of assuming I have to be the person I am.  It makes me want to work harder to improve.
  • And I have so much faith in my body to not suck now--not in the appearance sense, but in the strength sense.  Seriously, my body will do whatever I encourage it to do, if I feed it properly and care for it and nudge it in the right direction.  And that's probably the most empowering thing I've ever realized.  And it's something I shouldn't squander--there are a lot of people in this world who aren't as fortunate, who aren't in good health or who are otherwise disabled or limited.  It's something to be appreciated.  And  it feels so good to know that I've broken the cycle of self-defined failure that so many people seem to experience when it comes to working out.
May 31, 2008 was the first day I became a runner--the first day of my c25k program.  My first race was a 5 miler on Labor Day of that same year.  And now, my 29th year will be the year of my first full marathon.  In some ways my late 20s have been a steady progression upward.  And I may be turning 29 and unmarried, but I have a renewed faith in the possibility that there's someone out there for me who will be a good fit--I won't have to settle.  Weirdly in the past 2 weeks as this birthday has been approaching, I've been thinking a lot about how each day seems to get better than the last, and each month seems to get better than the last.  And if you know me, you know that positive thoughts like this are a real shift from my typical cynicism.  Let's hope it continues.  Heh.

I think I will be ok.


  1. Though this was probably intended to be a personal reflection post, I also liked it because it's good advice. For someone in her early 20s, this is a good reminder of how running can really shape who you are—and who you want to be.

    It sounds like you have an incredible amount to look forward to. I hope you have a very happy birthday tomorrow, Annette!

    P.S. Will you be going to Turtle Thursdays this week? I forgot to mention that I moved to Columbus this past week, and I'm hoping to make this Thursday's run!

  2. Good for you for being honest with yourself & with your readers. Great post. :)

  3. Jess--yes, I will totally be there! I can't wait to meet up :) I hope your move went smoothly and that you're getting settled in!