Sunday, August 12, 2007

What if You Hit a RoadBlock?

“I’ve pulled a ligament in my knee,” my friend wailed. “Just when I was starting to get somewhere in my running program! I’m so discouraged!” A first time runner, my friend had been doing a run/walk routine of one minute each for a couple of weeks and was about to progress to a two minute run/one minute walk when she felt the pain begin.

“So walk, instead,” I advised. “Don’t interrupt your routine. What matters most is to continue allotting that time for you and your health. If you can’t walk, then bike; if you can’t bike, then swim. But the important thing is to keep doing what you are able to do and don't break with your routine.”

When I was training for my first (and only!) marathon, a month before the race, I severely injured my knee. It would have been easy to give up if I hadn’t invested so much time and effort into my training. Rather than quit, I asked my physiotherapist what I could do to speed up the healing process. She suggested swimming, so instead of strapping on my sneakers each morning, I went to a neighbour’s pool, donned a life jacket and ‘ran’ around the deep end of the pool. My leg healed quickly, I maintained my aerobic levels, increased muscle strength, and discovered a new way to exercise that I never would have considered on my own. It’s hard work running through water.

An obstacle can give us an excuse to quit or present a new challenge, with a new solution– and I’ve often found the best path to a goal is not a direct routing. A goal is simply a direction to move in and working around an obstacle often takes us along a different path that enriches the journey.

Here is my friend Daryl. Although he suffers from psoriatic arthritis, a condition causing joint swelling and pain and fusing in his wrist joints and vertebrae, he kept at a training program, sometimes walking, sometimes running, until he was able to complete a half marathon. This literally took years, but in the meantime, he became so knowledgeable that he became a trainer/coach for the Arthritis Society's Joints in Motion Marathon training program. Eventually, Daryl completed a full marathon, but his main goal was just to keep moving as long as he was able. He is now a Nordic Walking enthusiast (but still coaches runners) and is very close to achieving his goal of 1000 kilometers in 20 weeks by Nordic walking and running. Now there's a great exercise for progressive walkers.

People like Daryl are a true inspiration. He has taught me to remain positive, to truly appreciate health and well-being, and to find a way beyond my roadblocks.

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