Commitment, in and of itself, irrespective of whether you win or not, is something that truly makes your life more worthwhile” – Harry Chapin. I first heard that almost 20 years ago as we were driving down to Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. That quote, among a few from other musicians, have shaped some of my core values since. Another is “I give honesty without regret”, which was part of Simon & Garfunkel’s Voices of Old People (Bookends album) recording.
I know sometimes that the first step is the hardest. Whether it’s because past attempts have fallen flat, or because you believe that it’s better to be on the sidelines because of your disabilities. But once you take that first step, it gets that much easier. As an example, in 2014 when I went into a gym for the first time in at least 5 years, I couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds. Even getting to the 1 mile mark as walk/run was painful, and I hurt badly that evening. It would have been easy to just say ‘screw it, this is too hard.’ But I had made a commitment to run the 5K and to my friends to run it with them, so I stuck with it. You can see where I’ve gone from there by just reading the previous two blog posts because I did.
While making that first step is crucial, so is being honest with yourself and those helping you. Having a goal and something to push for is great; but you also need to be realistic. If you’re just starting out and say that you want to run a marathon in a short time frame, that’s just not going to happen. One of the best ways to make sure that you keep yourself on track, grounded and realistic is to find someone you trust as a coach. Once they know both your current limits and goals, they’ll be able to help push/encourage you while making sure that you don’t go too far too quickly. I’ve got a half marathon on the schedule for 2016, and was seriously looking at the Chicago Marathon for 2015. Thankfully my coach helped me to see that that wasn’t the best idea at this point.
And as you push towards those goals, it may not be perfect. I think the best bar of pushing forward is just to be active for whatever amount of time is comfortable for you each day. That way even if you can’t get the specific activity in for whatever reason, at a minimum, you’ve still gotten the exercise in. My belief in that goes back to what several football coaches have told me over the years – that once you lose a workout, you can never get it back. So in my opinion, 60 minutes of walking when you can’t get a run/bike session/swim in, is far better than nothing.
If you find yourself slipping from that, you can always reinforce the daily workout schedule by creating a challenge with your friends. It doesn’t have to be for money or a prize. Pride in / drive to be on top should be enough. In March, I was part of a Spring Challenge against other Team RWB chapters, and that really helped me. Not just for making sure that I put in my effort for the chapter, but also in pushing myself to try and beat a specific Eagle. In the end, I put in over 3,600 minutes of activity (walk, run, spin, etc.) for the month. And that spark has carried over to April, even though most has just been walking to this point.
So get out there, find your pace, and keep it moving forward!