Oklahoma City, OK - (Wheeler Park) - 28 degrees, a winter sunrise, and the Oklahoma River - this was my setting to start my New Year at the OKC NYD Blastoff 5k. At 9am sharp, the gun went off and my second trek down the serene Oklahoma River trail begun. It was a very peaceful setting, as I guarantee you there was not a large crowd by the New Year's Day morning. Paced at the level my CURRENT conditioning would allow, I made my way to the finish line at 30:50. This is far from my best "performance" and I could care less. Why?
Like the Dodger Dash, I did not do ANY running since the last race. The holiday season was quite busy. This particular season (December 19-27), I simply did not work out much. I also consumed way too many calories on certain days and it did add up. The result? "Circumference enlargement" in the midsection, aka, my belly grew. I believe this is something many people can relate to at this time of the year.
I started back on track 4 days earlier in the week (Monday, December 28) with implementing better nutrition, rest, and stress management. I didn't want to wait until New Years Day to start feeling better. Please make note on the phrasing, "I wanted". Until someone intrinsically wants something, the motivation for the long-term does not last. At the same time, I do not kid myself. It took some consistent effort to put the excess weight on. Likewise, it will take consistency to take it off.
What does any of that have to do with a 5k race on January 1st? EXPECTATION is the answer. I knew the price of consuming too much combined with inactivity. Quite honestly, I was completely okay with that. Keeping that in mind, I had REALISTIC expectations for my run. I did not try an "all out" effort. Instead, I LISTENED to my body. What do I mean? Our body's pain receptors can inform us when we are loading ourselves too much. Trust me, if you have ever been involved in athletics, we are quite efficient at ignoring signs to stop. The "reward" for doing that too many times? Injury. Who wants that?
If you read my 2015 recap on 31st of December, you know my focus is HEALTH. I am not a professional athlete. I do not get paid hundreds, upon thousands, upon millions of dollars to workout or do races. I am a wellness professional though and do feel a personal responsibility for being an example of a healthy lifestyle. There is no glory injury. Excessively overloading your body's current abilities in the name of personal records (PRs), medals, trophies, headbands, etc. does not make sense in the big picture. Again, assuming you are not a professional athlete, injury takes time and potentially earning away from you. How focused are you on your money making endeavors with injury? Does it take time away from your family and other activities? That is not healthy, nor is it wished for by most.
Don't get me wrong, extrinsic motivators such as "race bling", the t-shirts, and other trinkets can still get me (evidence directly below). I have learned to attain them without increasing my chances for injury though.
The intention of this entry today is not to condemn the act of effort. If you have committed to HEALTHY lifestyle this New Year, congratulations! I applaud you that you have made the first crucial step to an amazing life! The focus of intent is gauging that commitment to the point you will not overload yourself, become frustrated, and potentially quit (again) ... until next January. My next entry will focus on the top 5 reasons people fail at fitness. Until then, here are some takeaways from today,
1. Set Realistic Expectations - Whether you are in shape or not, plan according to where your health is NOW. In either scenario, take it slow and progress that way. This minimizes chances of unneeded and unwanted injury. Even with speed training, good strength and condition specialists set the foundation for it with joint stability, mobility, and strength FIRST.
2. Listen to Your Body - If you feel pain or lose control of form, stop. You can rest, recover, and try it again later. Do this consistently and you will be able to apply more load (distance, weight, power, etc.)
3. Be Aware of Your Current Activity - or lack thereof. If you have not been consistent with nutrition, activity, rest, or stress management, your expectation for "performance" should be gauged accordingly. Example, inactivity = low expectation.
It is okay to take it slow and progress slowly from there. I did...and I'm not injured. 🙂
For more details on setting and gauging goals, check out my SMART goals entry. My next entry comes out later this week. Make a decision, a plan, and take action. See you on the side of good health and Happy New Year!