I've discovered that I have made progress. It seems sudden, but I know it's not. Progress develops over time. It can be difficult to notice the small changes that it's made of. We tend to notice it only when the change has become large enough to notice, and then it seems sudden.
I only started running 3 years ago. Before that I was sure I hated running and refused to do it. I did lots of other things to work out, but did not run. Even when training for a big climb, I did not run.
Three years ago, I decided to run - and discovered that I loved it! I got stronger and better, but I couldn't really get faster. I was slow and comfortable. I never consistently broke a 10-minute mile.
|running in Harriman Park|
Because it's hunting season, and I'm not convinced that hunters will always be able to distinguish me from a deer (even in my bright pink shirt), I went back to road running last weekend. I ran the 4 mile route I often would do. I wasn't trying to run fast, I was just enjoying myself. But when I checked my watch at the halfway point, I was running pretty fast for me. When I climbed the final hill to my driveway, I looked again - still fast. My pace was 8.4 minutes per mile. I know that's not an impressive speed for serious runners. Some of my running friends may laugh at my pride in that number. But that's a lot faster than a 10-min. mile!
Or so it seems. In reality, I've been running a lot more, getting stronger by running longer distances and hills. But that strength has translated into a little more speed.
It's great to see progress! It's satisfying; it's encouraging. But it's often elusive. Progress in fitness is not always obvious and it's not always steady. We improve a little, only to seem to get weaker the next week. We are diligent in our workouts, but don't feel noticeably stronger. We run a touch faster, only to stumble tomorrow.
Just remember, progress rarely is a steady line. We make leaps and backslide. But overall, there is progress. Try to think of it in longer segments. Don't compare to yesterday or last week.
This is one reason keeping an exercise log can be so helpful. You may not see improvement over last week, but if you look back to 3 months ago, you'll probably see some improvement. You may not be lifting twice the weight or running twice as far, but what you are doing probably feels easier than when you started. If it's written down, it's easy to check.
And also keep in mind what progress is for you. I was happy to run four 8.4-minute miles, but that number would be ridiculous to someone who ran the Chicago Marathon in 2:45. Progress is about you. It's about where you started, where you want to get to, and what your own goals are.
I want to run a really long distance. You might want to run your first 5K. Or you might want to lift 20lbs. Or you might want to play basketball with your kid.
Sometimes progress may not even be about improving. If you are in the middle of treatment, progress might just be about maintaining your fitness. Or it might be about limiting how much of your strength you lose.
Progress is all about you. It's about you and what you want.
- BY Julie | 11.23.2010
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