A couple of weeks ago I had my first set back since starting Couch to 5K. One week before Palm Sunday I went for my second ever outside run. The weather has NOT been cooperating with me this so-called spring, so most of my runs have been on the treadmill. Two days before this second outside run, I had also tried one on the indoor track at the Y. It's a short one (mind-numbingly short 17 laps=1 mile), but it was better than the treadmill after I had experienced my first "free range" run outside.
Well, Monday morning I woke up, but could barely move. My back was a mess. A huge mess. It was extremely difficult to get myself out of bed, showered, dressed, not to mention getting 3 kids dressed and out the door to school and daycare. It was a horribly painful day. The next day was even worse, and I called my doctor to see if there was anything to do.
I had a sciatic nerve problems with each of my three pregnancies, and had a real bad flare up about 6 months after my second child was born. This was that bad. Last time it was 2 weeks before we were moving from Lincoln, Nebraska to Hudson, Wisconsin, so I did some intense physical therapy to get it good enough to survive the packing, the moving, and the 7 hour drive. It worked and all was well. I have had a few twinges here and there since, but nothing that knocked me off me feet again until this month.
I saw my doctor, got some steroids, decided to hold off on stronger pain meds if I could, and heard about options for longer term treatment if another flare up comes back. Mostly, though, I was discouraged. I felt defeated. Here I was FINALLY trying to take care of myself, FINALLY trying to get in shape, FINALLY trying to do something new and good for me and I was benched with this miserable back. I was particularly upset that it was disrupting my Couch to 5K program. Just days before I had signed up for my first ever 5K that falls just a week after I am planning to finish the 9 week program. Time off me feet and out of my running shoes means potentially missing that goal.
photo © 2008 Andreanna Moya | more info (via: Wylio)
My the third day or so of the steroid treatment I started to feel better, but I was scared to get started again. I was also scared that not starting again would set me a week or two back in the program. I have let myself lapse in exercise before. In fact that is usually when I have quit. Coming back after a break was so discouraging that I haven't wanted to continue.
On about day 5 of the prescription I went back to the gym. I decided I would repeat the week I had to put on hold, all three runs. I decided to hop on the (booooooor-ring) treadmill instead of the track since I heard that may have been part of my problem. Our track is notoriously hard and painful for runners. I did so with great fear and trembling.
You know what, though? It went alright. I didn't lose much time or endurance at all really. I kept my old pace, if not increased it. I did it without sliding backwards, losing my energy, or quitting because it was easy to quit. The on-line community at #runrevrun and RunRevRun were a huge part of that success. I knew people were watching for me. I knew people were on a similar slow and steady path toward healthier living. I felt the companionship and encouragement of the community, and that made me want to push on. Week 5 worked well as a re-run and even really seemed to be a turning point for me and my attitude.
I feel like there may be parallels here for my spiritual discipline, or lack there of. I have that same tendency to quit when I lapse in prayer or reading Scripture for something OTHER than preaching or teaching. I have tried books and reading schedules and the daily office and devotionals, but nothing has quite held my attention in recent days (OK years). I have had short spurts of discipline usually during an Advent or Lent season, but when I have reached my "goal" I lose my commitment.
Maybe there's something to learn from the new care for my physical self in my need to care for my spiritual self, too. Accountability and community seems to be an important part. Pushing through when I just feel tired is probably key, too. Mostly, though, I think I need to recover the sense that THIS IS IMPORTANT. This is something God created me to do and to be - - a physically and spiritually healthy child of God. Connecting to the Spirit is something I need to rediscover so that just like with my running, I can continue to develop into the mother, wife, and pastor God is calling me to be.