Last time I asked you what gets in your way. You may have come to the conclusion that you are your biggest barrier. I know that’s true for me at times. When it comes to health, I try not to make it me. I troubleshoot the issue and look for ways to overcome the barrier, be it of my own making or something else. Today I am going to talk about one of these self-imposed barriers.
You may have guessed by the title of this article that the barrier is patience. How can patience be a barrier, instead of say, a motivator? Well, I believe it can be both. It all depends on how we use it. We’ll eventually get to this distinction; but first humor me.
If you’ve been following my journey, you know I’ve had my share of ups and downs. I got back to running in July of 2013. By the end of 2013 I was running the equivalent of a 5k three to four time a week (every other day). Despite my hatred (a little harsh) for the winter, I found running in the winter pretty cool (pun intended). It took a little getting used to, breathing in the cold. But it’s not that unlike running on a hot and humid day. Controlling the breath is key to running in any weather. Winter running has its own charm and I was patient with adapting because I wanted to experience the full effect. Unfortunately, winter running tends to occur in the dark more often than not. But on the weekends, I would go out at dawn.
My patience paid off and I was able to reap the rewards. There is nothing more serene yet energizing than a winter dawn run when it’s snowing. There’s a saying about snow and the cold. You’ll hear people say, it’s too cold to snow. I don’t know how true that is in fact, but in experience it tends to be the case. I would get so excited to wake up on a weekend and see flurries outside the window. It typically meant a great run could be had. The weather would be milder, the air crisp, and you can catch snowflakes on your tongue as you run. The icing on the cake would be to see a family of deer.
I haven’t been able to run the past two winters and I’ve missed it terribly. I’ve sat and looked out the window on those mornings with a heavy heart, watching other people run by; wishing it was me. But instead of repeating this sad practice indefinitely, I decided to take matters into my own hands and figure out how to get back to where I once happily was.
I started learning as much as I could about human physiology and biology, and nutrition. I spent a year studying health coaching and essential oils. And most recently I completed six months of deep dive studying on gut health. I consolidated all of this learning and applied it to my situation. I had been patient for so long, but it seemed there was more I could do to heal whatever it was that was not getting me over the hump.
In April of this year I found a wonderful functional medicine doctor in my small city. I was beyond thrilled. In our first appointment, she asked me what goal I wanted to accomplish with my health. I told her I want to run again. She looked over what I was currently doing to achieve this goal and we ran a lot of blood work. We tweaked my supplements a little and I started to notice some improvement, but still not enough.
In July of this year I devised a new plan. After reading a book by Dr. Jeffrey Bland called The Disease Delusion, I found what I believed to be the missing link. It was one of those a-ha moments. Not because I learned something new. I already knew how our body produces energy. I just hadn’t put the pieces together between that process, the damage that had been done to my body on a cellular level, and what might be missing from my protocol. It only required a little tweaking to what I was already doing.
I’m going to pause here and make an admission. When I said it was still not enough, I did not have hard evidence. I hadn’t tried to run yet. I was still in my patience mode, listening to my body. I believed my body would never lie to me and I’m certain it hasn’t. My mind however, is another thing.
So, I added one simple supplement to my regime in early July. On the first day of August I was floating in the pool. It may have been the hottest, most humid day of the summer. We had company coming in less than an hour. I had planned to go for a walk, but I was overcome by the sense that I could run. So I did. I got out of the pool, dusted off my running shoes, put in my earbuds and took off. It wasn’t much. It was less than a mile by design. I decided to run my short walk route. The route I take when I need a 10-minute break from working. It wasn’t easy; due mainly to the weather conditions. I went straight back into the pool when I got back home. I didn’t even bother to take off my Series 1 Apple Watch. Oops. Apparently it had already been slightly damaged from when I was in the pool earlier and didn’t even record my run. Big bummer since it was a momentous occasion. But the second time in fried that puppy to no return.
Regardless, I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day and I woke up smiling the next morning. My patience and persistence had paid off. Since then I have almost doubled my distance. In fact, I’m writing this on another hot day after coming back from my Sunday morning run. I haven’t run since last Sunday so I didn’t want to start adding on more mileage today given the heat and humidity. But I did map out (in my head) where I would add a little more distance. Today’s run seemed so much easier than the first one just a month ago.
When used as a motivator, patience was my ally. It allowed me to step back and look at not only what I was doing, but also what I might need to be doing to get me closer to my goal. I took a calculated approach, before forging ahead, that built up my strength in ways I had not been aware of. Prior to that, patience was my barrier. I stayed on one path and never looked for alternatives, hoping what I was doing was going to eventually get me there.
Learning how to use patience to your advantage can be tricky, but very fruitful. Where in your life could you use a little more patience?