Even before the world went sideways in March, 2020 felt hard. I was burned out from continuously chasing times and distances; I had a young kid who wasn’t what you’d call a superfan of sleep; things were happening all around me and to me, and I didn’t feel like I was driving any of it.
Do you have any idea how that felt?
And gaining freedom.
It felt like freedom to add a second day of weight training, quickly expanding both my little kettlebell family and my repertoire. It felt like retribution and a middle finger to the Presidential Fitness Test when I did the first full chin-ups of my life at age 40.
It felt like freedom to perform for the pure joy of digging deep and emptying the tank: on the bike, on the rower, in the gym, once even on the track. I didn’t have any kind of running goals, but it felt like affirmation to recognize the love of movement, of power, of sweat, of a physical challenge deep in my bones.
It felt like freedom to sign up for a virtual marathon and put in the hours and the miles and the reps, knowing I would undertake 26.2 for the sheer exhilaration of hours in the salty air alongside my husband and our incredible support crew. A marathon run solely for fun. I had no idea I was capable of separating myself from the need to perform.
I fired my running coach for the final two months of the year. I started a new job the first of November in an entirely new field, and I knew I needed to focus my energy on a successful start rather than on my fitness.
It felt like freedom to listen entirely to my body and my brain–a walk one day, strength and a row the next. I remained active, sure, but there were no plans. No miles to hit. No intervals to time. Just my twice weekly kettlebell workouts and whatever the heck else I decided to tackle.
Finding the courage to compete
And then, one random Friday in December, I found myself in the midst of a tough ladder workout on the rower. It was HARD. I wanted to puke. I wanted to quit.
I wanted to keep going.
I gutted it out, hitting the stroke rates, inching down my splits. I crushed that workout.
And then I did something I haven’t found myself doing in years. I took those moments when I wanted to quit, and I wanted to keep going, and I kept going. I held them up to the light and examined them, then tucked them in my pocket to remember next time things got tough.
That was my first clue that maybe, just maybe, I was ready to peek into the darkest corners of myself and see if I could find that bravery. The courage to perform and gut it out and leave all of me out on the road.
It felt like freedom, to glimpse that little piece of me I thought might be gone forever. It felt like the best kind of terrifying – the fastest upside-down loop on the roller coaster, hitting send on the resignation email, leaving the hospital with a helpless newborn – to rehire my coach and tell her it was time to face my longtime nemesis: the 5k.
How are you finding freedom this new year, BAMR?