May has been such a nightmare. Between COVID, my late mother’s birthday, and the senseless murders of black people, it was a tough month for so many. I feel so many strong feelings, especially in the wake of the protests. All of this alone would be a lesson on perseverance: persistence in doing, in living, and in fighting for a better world, despite the difficulty and obstacles that lie in the way of positive change and progress.
Let’s throw in running, too.
As you may know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Still I Run hosts a virtual May run-streak where you run (or walk) at least a mile every day in May. I decided to commit to this challenge. I believe in the mission and running has been a huge outlet for me. Running (and moving in general) has made me mentally healthier; probably more so than physically healthy.
In addition to committing to move a mile each day, I also challenged you to challenge me even more. I set three stretch goals for total mileage in May and you made wagers on if I could reach those goals. If I won, you agreed to donate the wager amount to a mental health charity. And in turn if you won, I would donate the wagered amount to three different charities.
Perseverance in Injury
Literally my first two runs of the month resulted in a heel injury. I still have no idea what was actually wrong, but I knew that my old shoes were the culprit. Fortunately, I had already bought new shoes and they arrived a few days into May.
Unfortunately, my heel plagued me the entire month. It didn’t hurt while running, and only hurt *sometimes* when walking around or standing up. It was infuriating trying to figure out where the pain was coming from in attempts to diagnose it. And since it only hurt sometimes, it was incredibly easy to ignore it.
Listening to My Body
Once the pain got to a certain point, I called halts to my running. I spent an entire week walking each day. It took everything I could to avoid running. “My heel is fine while running, it would be fine, right?” The fact that the pain wasn’t consistent or always bad made it difficult for me to take care of it. I commented to a friend that I really missed going on a run and that limiting to walking was a struggle.
I also noticed that my motivation to go out for my walk each day was significantly lessened. As a migraine sufferer and having food/environmental allergies, it’s super important to expect and listen for the signs and symptoms that are indicative of an oncoming migraine or allergy attack. Despite all of that, it was still really difficult for me to allow my body (heel) to heal before restarting running.
Fortunately, my heel had made notable progress in its healing after a week of walking. So, I decided to start running again.
The ease in which I can talk myself out of doing something that I know is good for me is astounding. I learned to make just about every excuse to avoid going out for my mile. Some days were really tough for me and it took a lot of mental fortitude to get up off the couch and get that mile in.
As Lin-Manuel Miranda so eloquently wrote this lyric for George Washington in Hamilton:
This month was a lesson on: quitting is easy, Laura, getting out and doing it is harder. Go do, persevere.
And I did.
I went out and I ran or walked at least one mile every day in May! It is the longest streak I’ve ever maintained. Getting out and doing a mile despite every fiber of my being protesting is a testament to my strength; and it is also only a fraction of the perseverance that my black and brown friends deal with on a daily basis.
And the results are amazing. I am stronger, both physically and mentally, I am happier and I feel healthier, I feel good, and I sleep well. For the first time in years, I can say that I am stable and functional in both my work life and my home life. It’s astounding. I have therapy and this run streak to thank for finding this healthy balance.
To everyone who challenged me by taking a wager: THANK YOU. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart. Your commitment to supporting me and mental health awareness means so much to me.
With that said… I ran
I hit every stretch goal I set, even with a bum heel!
To a Just Cause: Black Lives Matter
I have decided to donate my wager “winnings”. Instead of donating to the listed charities, however, I am donating to Black Lives Matter, Black Visions Collective, The Bail Project, and the ACLU. I will then match those donations in the same amount to the GoFundMe’s of George Floyd’s family, Ahmaud’s mother and immediate family, and the
legal costs for Kenneth Walker regarding the Breonna murder (Edit: at time of donation, the GoFundMe suspended additional donations).
While I believe in the work and missions of the charities I listed in defeating the stigma around mental health, I also believe that Black Lives Matter and that the racial injustices that are sweeping are nation need to be supported as well.
I set a 5K Personal Record. TWICE.
I ran my first ever 10K!
I ran the longest distance ever without stopping 3 times. First at 4 miles. Then 5 miles. Then 6.2 miles.
My training app and watch told me that I needed to recover for 66 hours after that 10K. To which I told it, “sorry, can’t, run streak. But I’ll only do a mile.”
On one of my runs, I saw a boat named “Play Bouy” which was just enough to make me smile through the last leg of my run.
On one of my runs, I said a social-distanced hello to a pair of walkers and one of them singsonged back a “HuulllLOOOOOOO!” and I grinned for a mile.
On one of my runs, I found a nickle. 1 penny for each mile I ran that day.
On one of my runs with Jackie, I found that my running pace was too fast for her and I was essentially dragging her along. And when I switched to walking, she was practically dragging me along. We don’t run together if I’m doing a timed run anymore.
I have decided to not keep the streak once the month is over. I love what it has taught me and I love that it’s shown me that I can love running when I do it mindfully and meditatively. Unfortunately, while my heel is doing MUCH better, I still experience some pain with it. I need to take some time to fully heal it and be mindful of taking care of my physical health in addition to my mental health.