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Resetting Expectations

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Today I went to a women's running session at the gym. I had talked on the phone with the coach, Michelle, who told me that her group was small (two regulars plus a few drop ins) and that I was welcome to come and try out the group. I explained a bit about my running background, said I'd like to get faster and keep my momentum over the winter.

When it isn't pouring down rain, Michelle usually takes the group outside, but today it was pouring. So after a few minutes of warm up movements on the indoor track, she put us on treadmills and had us do some speed work. What this meant was, each woman, according to her ability, would go a little bit harder for two minutes, then back off to a comfortable base pace. Since I told Michelle that I could comfortably run at a 10 minute per mile pace, she put me on a 5.5 miles per hour base pace followed by 2 minutes at 6.5 miles. I was surprised that I could do this (and we did so for 30 minutes). Quite frankly, I didn't believe I could run much faster than 6 milwa per hour. But I did. Comfortably. Wow.

Michelle said that intervals are a great way to gradually get your body used to going faster.

Truth be told, I was blown away. Mentally, I had pegged myself at being limited to running 10 minute miles. After all, I'm 6 years older than when I trained for and ran a marathon. And I am not a fast runner.

But yet...the light bulb went off in my head. Lesson learned: I shouldn't get too complacent about what I can accomplish, physically. I don't know what my limits are. And I shouldn't arbitrarily set limits on myself.

Why, at age 57 am I falling prey to the belief that I'm "older" and therefore can't do as much as I used to when I was a few years younger?

Maybe it is the not so subtle messages I get from people around me. My daughter, complimenting me on my recent 10k results (at a little over a 10 minute per mile pace) said, "Pretty good for an older woman!" She has me pegged. I'm the oldest person in most of the road races I run. And one of the older cyclists in my spinning classes. But I've been keeping up with most of the triathletes who are in the class. I'm one of the more fit students. Not the most fit. But I'm pretty fit. I more than hang in there.

Still...I realized that I had set my expectations for running lower than what they should be. I was comfortable being a 10 minute per mile runner. Although secretly I've always wished I could be somewhat faster. But I just didn't believe I could run faster.

Michelle, with the 30 minutes on the treadmill doing speedwork, just helped me reset my expectations. Sometimes it takes another person to remark on what they think you can do. That's what I like about spark people. There are so many people who inspire me to do my best. And they help me set my expectations high for maintaining my weight loss and getting more fit.

What expectations do you have for your spark journey?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • REJ7777
    emoticon emoticon Isn't it great to have to adjust the bar upwards! Your body is rewarding you for all your disciplined training. It's incredible how we can be limited by our own thoughts and beliefs. Well, that's one less limiting belief you'll have to deal with! I really appreciate your blog, because it makes me reflect on my own limiting beliefs. I'm so happy for you! emoticon emoticon
    3882 days ago
    I sometimes have the thought in the back of my mind that people look at me and think "what does that old lady think she's trying to prove, anyway!" A great blog! We don't have to quit improving, espeically if our body (knees, hips, ankles, etc.) are hanging in there. A great reminder to keep pushing our limits!
    3882 days ago
    This blog, and the last, are great. Well, they're all great, but these two combined are.. moreso. You've reached your goal, you're maintaining now, and yet you continue to learn and grow and strive and keep on. You're not resting on your accomplishments. You're embodying what we always hear here - this is a healthy lifestyle, not just a diet. You're inspiring those of us following in your successful footsteps.

    Thank you for sharing what you're learning!
    3882 days ago
    A powerful truth!
    3882 days ago
    Great going! You are doing great. I met lady a lot older than you, 64, that had just started running last year. She ran off and left her daughter and me and a lot of others in the 5k. Let the limits off and run baby!! emoticon Tammy! emoticon
    3882 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/9/2010 9:43:06 PM
  • no profile photo CD6484093
    Good for you, Rebecca! I, too, have fallen into that "I'm getting too old for that" mode. I've often wondered what a spinning class would be like, but I have to first get back to the gym on a regular basis. I've always hated running, even as a child, yet there is a small, teeny-tiny spark (pun intended) inside that would like to find out if I still hate it. But that's a long way off. Just spending most of today back on SP and reading blogs, I'm starting to feel motivated and reenergized. Hopefully my back will feel better in a few days and I can get back to the gym.

    Keep doing what you're doing -- cuz you're inspiring me!
    3882 days ago
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