Fueling Setbacks with Gratitude

NiteMovesJune2514It has been a SERIOUSLY fun year of running for me—pushing myself out my comfort zone, competing, playing, connecting with new people, doing new events.

Each week I’ve gotten stronger, faster and more confident as I’ve worked at getting back into shape.

By late August, I had logged well over a dozen races—many of which I’d run slightly faster than the one before. It was exhilarating.

But then I hit a speed bump.

Ventura Half Marathon MedalAfter running the Ventura Half Marathon in early September and then the She is Beautiful 5K a couple weeks later, with 18 and 20-mile runs in between, along with some tempo runs and track workouts, my body let me know that not only had I taken it too far, I had taken it for granted by ignoring its subtle, yet persistent warning signals.

Becky Aaronson 2014 She is BeautifulThe aches, “which every runner feels,” I told myself, were never “that bad.” But then those aches suddenly turned into ones that were that bad. With just six weeks to go until my target race—the Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Marathon—I was forced to put on the brakes as I pushed my foot and back beyond their tipping points.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Long story short (because I don’t want to bore you with a litany of injury details), the Santa Barbara Marathon did not happen for me. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my frustration.

YOU IDIOT! I scolded myself, YOU KNOW BETTER! WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN?

After beating myself up, then administering several generous doses of chocolate and wine, I finally pulled myself together. I was determined to salvage this marathon, no matter what.

Thus began my 6-week “mega taper,” which involved a whole lot of rest, pool running, cryotherapy and compression sessions, nothing but uber healthy food, extra cushy Hoka shoes, then slowly easing back into short, easy runs on grass with Coach Nash’s guidance.

Cryotherapy at The LabNormaTec Compression PantsRun Be Run Green Smoothie
Hoka Huaka shoes

I tried to convince myself that by not stressing about it and embracing this “mega taper,” I’d at least get myself to the starting line. Eventually though, it became painfully obvious that attempting a full marathon would be stupid in my marginally healed state, and my marginally maintained fitness level. I might have been able to do it (ever so slooowwwly), but I didn’t want to just run another marathon; I wanted to race it.

But here’s the good news (the cup is half full, right?): although I didn’t run the full marathon, I did manage to salvage race day by at least participating in the half marathon. It was not fast (about 8-10 minutes off my goal time) or pretty, but I did get through it, on a very hot day no less, and did cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

Becky Aaronson Santa Barbara Half MarathonBecky Aaronson 2014 SB Half Marathon

That was three weeks ago. I know I should be happy that I ran a half marathon, but I still feel as bland as overcooked broccoli about it, and quite frankly, a little embarrassed about my less than stellar performance. To top it off, my other foot is now wonky, compliments of running the half when perhaps I shouldn’t have. Add a hearty dose of bronchitis on top of it all, and this mama is a little bonkers right now. Make that A LOT bonkers.

We all go through rough patches though. That’s what makes us human. That’s what reminds us to be appreciative and mindful of what we have, when we have it.

It’s kind of like the Tibetan proverb: “Pain exists to measure pleasure.”

I may be bonkers, but I’m not wallowing in a pity party. Nope. Not even close. Instead, I’m relying on the best remedy I know to get through it, especially when I can’t run and dump all my frustrations on the road.

That remedy is to pack my head and heart full of gratitude. It may sound sappy or cliche, but I am one lucky chiquita, and I know it. We’re talking “big picture, over the moon, pinch myself” lucky.

Life has handed me more than my share of gifts so when a minor speed bump comes along, like an injury or an annoying virus, I simply have to remind myself of all the things that make me happy and grateful. It really is that simple.

From people like Mike Swan, PT extraordinaire, who is helping me figure out my aches and getting me back on track to Coach Nash, who has helped me get stronger and fitter all year and who has been more than patient and supportive as I’ve made this journey. My list is long.

Several years ago I actually took the time to write down “A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful,” and it’s something I look at several times a year to remind myself how profoundly lucky I am. Click on the link above (it’s on my other blog) if you want to know what makes me dizzyingly happy.

Until next time…this mama is counting her blessings, working on getting 100% healthy, and recharging for all the fun that lies ahead! So tell me, what packs your heart full of gratitude?

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14 thoughts on “Fueling Setbacks with Gratitude

    • Life is one great big balancing act, and our bodies always have a way of telling us when we’ve gone too far. I keep trying to get smarter about it, but enthusiasm ofter trumps reason.

      I think this old dog needs to learn a few new tricks like yoga, pilates, and core work…not to mention knowing when to rest!

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  1. It was fun seeing you at the starting line of SBIM Becky! I too am in the same “crippled” state of being as you are, but you just made me feel better by expressing exactly how I feel 🙂 As they say, this too shall pass. And nope, I’m not one for depression either!! Hope to run alongside you again in a race one of these days!

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  2. Becky,
    Thanks for sharing your story and the reminder to use Gratitude when facing a setback. It is so grounding and so helps us get back on our feet! Good luck to you and hope to see you on the streets soon!

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  3. I can feel the weight of your letdown, like a brick on a marshmallow, squeezing you flat. I can taste the bubble-less champagne you toasted yourself with as you crossed the “half as good” finish line too. But the truth is you rock, and you rock hard. It’s just your nature to push–it’s the reason you accomplish so much. Your physical setbacks will always be the reminder to “walk and smell the roses,” but you’ll likely never be fully cured. Gratitude to get you through it…now that’s genius, an authentically soothing balm.

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    • Wow, Britton, your words are an authentically soothing balm. Thanks for stopping by to say hello–especially after your epic month of NaNoWriMo. Congrats on crossing the finish line!! Writing an entire novel in one month definitely qualifies the “ultra marathon” of writing. I’m so happy for you and proud of you!!!!

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