Rest Self-care

The anticipation of limitations

A few weeks ago, I found myself cautiously entering a local running shop for day one of their “Learn to Run” program.  To say I was out of my element would be a gross understatement.

I hate exercise.  I have tried, and failed, at so many forms of exercise that I consider this an established fact.  I know I should be more active, so I regularly allow myself to get talked into something a friend loves and before the free-trial is up, I quit.  Because it’s awful.  I will never understand those fitness buffs who love every sweaty minute of it, and who boast how sore they are as if it’s fun to be in pain.  No thank you, I’ll stick with a nice walking pace.

But I’m struggling these days with mental health and my doctor has given me strict orders to start exercising or else.

That’s how I found myself learning how to run.  As I told the running group, “it’s just that I hate gyms more than I hate running, so I thought I’d start here.”

Now, there’s motivation. 

You’re going to be okay

But my attitude was reflected in the other 5 ladies taking the course – we all looked like deer in headlights, convinced we were going to fail before we even started.  Apparently that’s normal, since the entire “teaching” section of day one could be summed up in this: “you’re going to be okay.”

With the gentle approach, permission to go slow, cautions against pushing ourselves and completely foreign approach of “run happy” (instead of “suffer for the greater good”) I found… I liked running.

I stuck to their schedule, running one minute then walking for 2 minutes, three times a week.  It felt good.  I liked myself out there, doing this. I wanted more.  So the next week, I told my instructor how much I was enjoying running and asked if there was a program I should follow if I was ready to take on more.  

He stopped me in my tracks.

Every other day, he told me.  No more.  Do not run more than that!  You will get injured if you don’t start slow.

Freedom of limitations

Ummm… did I hear right?  Have I ever heard an enthusiast in any form of fitness limit workouts?  Yes, they pay lip service to “rest days” but by that they mean one day a week where you do a different kind of workout, not where you actually rest.  What’s this about not being allowed?

He had an explanation about muscle repair and bone density, which I didn’t hear much of because I was still stuck on this not allowed to run more business.

So I am sticking to the plan: this week I’m running 90 seconds and walking 2 minutes.  I’m getting faster, too.  And only 3x a week.

And you know what?  I can’t wait for the days I’m allowed to run!  I still go for a walk on my off-days, but my favourite days are my running days.  The limitation has translated into anticipation.  

Limitations of Sabbath

It’s made me think about other things.  What if workplaces didn’t allow you to work overtime, answer emails, pick up the phone or come in on the weekend.  Would we then be excited about Mondays?

What if one day a week you weren’t allowed to cook or clean… would that make meal planning that much more enjoyable?

What if we had a day off from all our normals, and that limitation actually became something to anticipate?  What if we called it… I don’t know… Sabbath?  

And the problem is we need permission for most things.  If your boss sent you home and didn’t allow you to have email on your phone or publish your home number, that’s fantastic.  But for you to tell your boss you won’t answer email and have a private number at home… well, it doesn’t always go so well.

I can choose not to cook or clean for a day at home, but I still feel the weight of it because the house just gets messier and we still need to eat.  That’s not super restful.

But I’m hung up on this idea, andI want to figure it out.  How do stay-at-home moms “Sabbath”?  How business owners leave it all behind one day a week?  How do caregivers, police officers, ER doctors and other non-9-5-ers work that out?  What does it look like?

Running has taught me that you take those rests not just to recover from the exhaustion the week has brought you; you take those rests because it energizes you for the next day.  What used to be a dreaded chore becomes a luxury and a privilege.  

I can’t imagine housework being a privilege, but then again, no one would have suspected I’d enjoy running either, so you never know.  Miracles could happen.

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