A fellow blogger who first introduced me to the term “runfession” recently posted a new runfession of her own after many months, which inspired me to follow suit. Thanks, Irma!
Fifteen months ago (I just looked it up), I runfessed that it looked like my running days were over. I was hanging up my sneakers. I spoke about the joy and privilege it had been to have been able to run, and that rather than despair that my various reluctant body parts were screaming at me, I’d celebrate the running experiences I’d been able to enjoy.
Fast forward 15 months and I am finding that adding a little running to the mix actually aids in the comfort level of going for a walk, so within the past few weeks I’ve started a ‘walk a bit – run a bit’ program. We’ll see how it goes. And I’ve also stumbled onto an app that works as a great motivator for me to get out and do something, and, as we’re all spending an inordinate amount of time ‘staying home – staying safe’, I thought I’d share my find in case it helps motivate any of you as well.
From 2009 through 2014 or so, when I was training for long distance races, my running routes along our trails looked something like this:
Of course, we know those distances can’t last forever, but the interesting thing is that even drawing the routes on a map brings back the joy of moving along those beautiful trails. I find I can relive every step.
Now that I’ve started my new program, which might even include working up to running 5K (one lives in hope), my trail routes look more like this:
But still, they do include some running interspersed with walking, and it feels so good to move again. There’s a time for marathon training and a time for just trying to keep moving. After all, as it says in Ecclesiastes: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Surely that includes long distance running!
And now to motivation. As an inveterate list-maker, writing down things I really want to make sure get done – along with the things that have to get done – usually works. But not always. For exercise, not when the weather’s bad, or when I just run out of time because I let other things (or doing nothing) get in the way. Committing to a goal always works best for me. That’s why registering for a race always ensured that I got out the door at the expense of other items, with no remorse. After all, I had a race to prepare for! Of course, races are off the table for most people at the moment, except for virtual ones. And that’s where this virtual challenge comes in.
I know there are plenty of traditional races that have gone virtual during the pandemic, and they do seem to be working fairly well, all things considered. Definitely better than nothing. But it turns out that there are also virtual challenges out there that allow the participants to complete the challenge in their own timeframe and to their own abilities (walk, run, cycle, motorized wheelchair, swim, indoor exercise equipment, etc.). In other words, set your own challenge that works for you and then work hard to meet your challenge. I like it.
One such collection of challenges can be found at the Conqueror Challenges site. They offer 17 virtual challenges with a vast array of distances and locations around the world, along with the option of creating your own challenge along a route and time of your choosing. The challenges start small,
and grow to be very ambitious, including the length of the UK (1743 kms/1083 mi) and Route 66 in the U.S. (3369 kms/2280 mi).
I’ve chosen the St Francis Way Challenge, which covers the 503 kms (312 miles) from Florence to Rome that St. Francis traveled. I’ve also given myself until the end of the year to complete it, anticipating some injuries, but if I surprise myself I can always start a new challenge. Maybe the Ring Road around Iceland!
They have an app that allows you to keep track of where you are, and uses google StreetView so you can see what it looks like where you are on your virtual route. Kind of fun.
I’m definitely a sucker for these things, but I find that I go out and move just so I can come home again and see how much further I got and what the street view looks like where I am now. It may be silly, but it works for me! It looks like it works for lots of other people as well. The Facebook community comprised of participants working on their challenges suggests that people are signing on for every kind of reason. The pride they express in their accomplishment when they finish is seriously heartwarming; for many it is the first time they have challenged their body, and they wear their finishers medal with understandable pride.
As for me, I’m pleased to have something that gives me that extra push to get out and move. I’m delighted that I can move, at least for now. And, thanks to social media, I’m enjoying being part of a large, diverse, and widely distributed community of people of all ages, meeting their own challenges.
What motivates you to do something that you know you’d enjoy but just don’t seem to get to?