I’ve had a lesson in keeping challenges flexible.
The day of third race in the Vancouver Island Trail Running Series came, and I made the decision NOT to run.
Okay, I’d mostly made the decision the night before, but it took the light of day shining on the reality of the situation to truly convince me of what I NEEDED to do.
In the grand scheme of things, it was a very SMALL decision. After all, it was just a race. But it didn’t feel small while I was wrestling with it (Learn more about my decision process here).
You see, I’d signed up for the race, and on some level I wanted to do the race. It was a challenge I’d set for myself, and it was important to me that I succeed.
What made the decision even harder was that I knew that I could do it. I could’ve reached down deep to the bottom of the well and pulled out the strength to finish every single step of the race. I probably could’ve even done well.
I’m STUBBORN like that.
But at what COST?
I’ve been struggling all week with a pain flare; probably, the most INTENSE pain flare that I’ve had in six months or so. When my chronic pain is like this, it impacts every part of my life. It also impacts the lives of my husband and my children.
On this journey of living with EVER-PRESENT PAIN, I have learned many lessons. One of the hardest has been learning that it’s imperative for my physical health and emotional well-being to keep my goals flexible.
I don’t want to become stagnant just because I struggle with a chronic condition.I don’t want to become stagnant just because I struggle with a chronic condition. Click To Tweet
I want to keep moving FORWARD with my life. And moving forward demands that I set challenges for myself.
However, altering those challenges to align them with my CURRENT level of ability – something that is fluid and unpredictable – is CRUCIAL to my happiness.
Today, I could’ve dug deep and drawn from my reserves of inner strength. But that well is not as deep as it used to be. And sometimes I NEED those reserves just to get out of bed in the morning and be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children.
And even though for some reason I need to constantly remind myself that being present for my family is the most important thing to me, it truly is. It’s much more important and rewarding than putting a check in the box beside some arbitrary goal I’ve set for myself – like running up a mountain.
My condition is UNPREDICTABLE.
And because of that unpredictability, sometimes I need to take a step back and rest, instead of charging forward.
However, stepping back and resting isn’t something that my Type-A personality really does without a fight. Even, if that fight is just in my mind.Am I giving up too easy? Click To Tweet
Is this one step closer to being sedentary?
Is this just one more thing being taken away from me?
The thing is, though, when you live with chronic pain, it’s impossible to know what’s going to become your next BIG challenge. It could be something as simple as finding the energy to overcome the desire to curl up in a ball and cry, so that you can sit and have dinner with your family.
The morning of the race, I stood staring at myself in the mirror. I could see the darkness under my eyes which gets more prominent when I’m in a lot of pain. I could feel the pain spiraling up my legs, and I could feel my arms aching as I raised them to brush my hair.
I KNOW I made the right decision.Sometimes the RIGHT choice is to opt out. Click To Tweet
I know it was right, even if I was still wrestling with questions about whether I was doing what’s right for my body or just being lazy.
Because, even though I know I could’ve stood at the start line of that race, and I could’ve taken every step up and down the hills, it was more important to rest.
Running that particular race wasn’t my whole world. It was just one little piece.
By RESTING instead of running, I allowed my well of energy to replenish. I prepared myself for the next challenge. And because I never know what the next challenge will be, it’s important to not EVER let that well run completely dry.
I want to be present in my children’s lives. I want them to remember me as STRONG and CAPABLE.
I want to be there beside my husband as an equal partner and not as a bystander in the journey of our marriage.
So, I stepped back from a challenge that I’d set for myself. And just because I didn’t rise to meet that challenge TODAY doesn’t mean that I won’t TOMORROW.
There are, after all, three more races in the series. And I had OTHER challenges to face that day.
Besides, let’s be honest, who likes running up hills anyway?
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