SO YOU ALREADY KNOW THE THRILLING AND HARROWING TALE OF HOW I BECAME A KOALA WHO RUNS.
And once I did, running became a crucial part of my life.
Three times a week, I would head out to run through the parks, past the Royal Palace in Madrid. Past monuments, statues, musicians, dancers, and assorted street performers. Past terraced cafes filled with people enjoying their wine in the warmth of the brilliant Spanish sun, regardless of the season.
I ran by gardens, fountains, and an ancient Egyptian temple gifted to Spain for its part in preserving antiquities threatened by the building of the Aswan Dam. And as I circled the park, I looked back over the Madrid skyline, past the Palace at La Almudena and San Francisco, two beautiful domed cathedrals outlined by the sunset.
I was so obsessed, I even ran on vacation. In the Canary Islands, San Sebastian, Provence, Santiago de Compostela, along the Seine in Paris.
It made me feel strong, powerful, athletic. It cleared my head, blew away any stress, freed my creative mind to, well, create. And, it sloughed off the calories from all that lovely Spanish wine and food.
It was glorious. It was essential.
AND THEN, ONE DAY IT WAS GONE.
We had moved to the Vermont countryside, and, without my really noticing it, our lives had become much more sedentary. We no longer had to climb five floors to get to our apartment. We didn’t need to walk everywhere in order to do every single thing. We didn’t take long Sunday tapas crawls throughout the city, ranging over several kilometers up and down Madrid’s hill, an odyssey that brought us almost as much exercise as wine and food.
And one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day I woke up to find myself less healthy, less happy, and less svelte. Argh. And the more I was, the more I was. You know how that works, right?
When I finally decided to fight back and recommit to the goal of healthy, happy, and lighter, I reached out to my old friend running, the most efficient exercise, the best calorie burner I had found.
BUT IT WASN’T THERE.
Because I wasn’t in any kind of shape to run. I couldn’t run long enough or well enough to get anything out of running other than a feeling of despair.
All the glorious things running had brought me before: that sense of physical well being, the mood elevation, the mind clearing, the calorie burn-all of it was gone. And in their place: a sense of inadequacy, of frustration, and not enough calorie incineration to keep my Fitbit from throwing a shit fit.
Running was not helping me, it was hurting me. It wasn’t giving me a workout, it was giving me a beating.
I walked. I walked fast. I walked hard. With purpose, with drive. Yes, people, I power walked.
I know, I know, now you’ve got a visual of me as a blue haired, white sneakered, pink tracksuited, Bedazzled mall walker, right? First, a jogging marsupial and now, a Golden Girl. Clearly, I need an image consultant, ’cause I SUCK at this. (But, you will have to pry my Bedazzler from my cold, dead hands.)
But power walking, ahem, gave me just what I needed, what running used to give me, but couldn’t anymore.
YES, IT WAS HARD TO LET RUNNING GO.
I had worked at running. I had suffered for it, and I had triumphed over it. Having fought so hard to become a runner, it was difficult to not keep banging my head against the door asking to be let in. It felt like I was losing ground somehow.
I didn’t want to give up my identity as a runner. Running is impressive. Hell, I was impressed with myself.
And now, I wasn’t impressive. Changing out running for walking felt like weakness. Like swapping bad-ass for wussy-ass.
BUT HERE IS THE THING: I HAD TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
Because being a runner was never the point. It was a proxy. The goal was for me to feel like a strong, healthy, happy being. Running was just a means to that end.
If running couldn’t do it for me, I had to do the thing that would.
Ultimately, it didn’t really matter how I got there, as long as I got there. And walking would get me there.
So much so, that when I sprained my ankle three months later (oh, tipsy Wendy, when will you learn to watch where you step???), it barely slowed my stride. I rested for three days, chafing at the bit the entire time, and then was up and at ’em again with my girls at the mall. (No, no, seriously, I am NOT a mall walker.)
That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is resilience.
AND THAT’S WHY DOING WHAT YOU CAN IS SO VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.
Not only because the alternative is to stagnate and DIE.
But because it teaches you resilience.
Every time, getting knocked down is going to be less damaging.
Every time, getting back up is going to be easier.
AND YOU ARE GOING TO NEED AS MUCH RESILIENCE AS YOU CAN GET YOUR HOT LITTLE HANDS ON.
Because you’re going to get knocked down a lot. There will always be some damnable thing that will come to block your path. And you are going to have to find a way to scramble over the top of that craggy heap to get where you are going.
And your business is going to demand it of you.
Because you are going to get good and comfortable with handling your work a certain way. You are going to get all your methods and systems, platforms and technologies figured out and working well for you.
Until new ideas, new methodologies, new platforms and technologies form an unholy cabal that render all that tried and true a hell of a lot less effective than it used to be. (Hello cold calling: ten years of my life I’ll never get back.)
AS FOR ME:
I may be a runner again. I may not. But, no matter what gets in my way, it’s not going to keep me from being the strong, powerful, healthy, happy woman that I want to be.
AND, AS FOR YOU:
Even if it’s not what you used to do.
Even if it’s not what everyone else is doing.
Even if it’s not how you think you should be able to do it.
All that matters is that you keep moving forward, doing what works for you now.
If you can’t run, walk.
You’re not showing your weakness.
You’re showing your determination.
You’re showing your resilience.
YOU’RE SHOWING YOUR STRENGTH.