Teacher Life: 365 Days of Running
Today marks my 365th day of running. That's right- I've been running at least a mile every day for an entire year. Rain or shine. Sickness or in health. This journey has had bumps along the way...especially in the beginning.
It started with a crash. A.k.a a tremendously uncoordinated trip off of the sidewalk and into the middle of the street. That was my Day 1 of running- filled with blood, bruises, tears, and an entire afternoon nap session. You see, some coworkers were doing a 100 Day Running Challenge that I wanted to join in on. It had been a while since I had truly felt "like myself"- strong, confident, and healthy. I would try to workout, get worn out, my immune system would crash, and I would get sick. This vicious cycle lasted for two years. Nothing ever stuck. I thought that having a group of teachers (who were equally exhausted at the end of a school day) as a support group could finally help me hold myself accountable.
I wasn't wrong! A week after my initial fall I started back up again. To be frank, it was miserable. I was completely unmotivated. After school I was physically, emotionally, and mentally spent. How was I going to muster energy to run? The only place I wanted to run to was my couch! But I started....slowly. Some days I would text for motivation. My friends would send motivational memes or words of encouragement. I used the MyRunKeeper app to keep track of my distance. Some days I couldn't do a mile without stopping. On those days I would pause my app, walk, and then finish running my mile. Other days felt slightly better. Some days I was so exhausted that I would come home and nap just so I would have energy to run my mile later.
It took three to four months for running to become a routine for me. It went from, "Ugh. How am I going to do this...." to "This is just something I do every day." I hit my 100th day of running right before the new school year started. Right before I was about to get back into even more routines with even less time for myself.
I came to a realization that summer. For the last few years I had been committing to different areas of my life- just overcommitting. My job, my personal aspirations, my business. I would set ridiculously difficult goals for myself and stress when I couldn't complete them. I wasn't setting aside time for myself. I would say "Yes" to everything. Need a volunteer? Sure. Need some help creating that? Of course. Need help with a deadline? Alright. I have always been and will always be a team player. I truly love helping others. But in order to continue helping others, I needed to learn how to love myself enough to put myself first.
The beginning of the school year was difficult. Adjusting to my school routine, attending back to school events, and running every day was exhausting. The work was the same and my kids were really sweet. Why did things feel harder? This year wasn't any different. Why could I not accomplish the things I could always do with ease? I didn't feel like I had the same stamina that I once had. I felt like the checklist of things to do would never stop. I remember receiving an email that asked for volunteers. Any other year I would have volunteered. It's what I've always done. I didn't respond that I was 'interested' to the email. Later when I was asked in person, I declined saying that I was feeling overwhelmed and wasn't able to help at that time. I said "No".
Saying no is not something that comes easy to me. I felt really terrible about it. I couldn't stop thinking about it. At this point in the fall everything felt overwhelming and tiring. I didn't feel like I was trying new and inventive things in my classroom. I wasn't creating resources. I wasn't sharing ideas on social media because I didn't feel like I had anything exciting to share. But there was one thing I was doing. I was running. That mile each day became my constant. Regardless of how great or terrible I was feeling, it was there every day. It was something that I would and could accomplish. It was something that was attainable.
I began applying that concept to all areas of my life. Instead of creating long lists (on paper or in my mind) of everything I needed to do, I focused on what needed to occur. What tasks do I need to get done at school today? What can wait? What do I need to do when I get home? What can wait until the weekend? What do I want to do to spend time with others? How do I want to recharge after school or over the weekend? I wasn't taking work home. I wasn't agonizing over to do lists. I wasn't checking email over the weekends. I was spending more time with my loved ones. I was setting goals I could achieve. I was traveling and hiking. I was running.
I've traveled 365 miles by foot this past year. I have proven to myself that I can do this. I've hit my milestone. And I'm not stopping. I think of the progress I have made in the past year. I feel stronger and healthier. I've had more adventures with family and friends than I have had in years. I let work stay at work. I manage my time better. I turn off notifications. I cuddle with Soren and Zephyr on the couch and watch Netflix all day....and don't feel the need to accomplish anything other than finishing as many seasons of Terrace House as humanly possibly. I love myself enough to know that I can't pour from an empty cup. When my cup begins to feel full again, I now realize that it's perfectly okay to choose not to pour.
Running was my first step.
My first step back.
Back to loving myself.
Back to putting my needs first.
Back to strength.
Back to confidence.
Back to me.