This week’s first run was a total disaster. I didn’t run on Saturday as I was supposed to since I we made a trip to see my grandparents and that ended up taking most of the day so I was happy to reschedule my run for Sunday. The only problem with that was the massive thunderstorm we had going on all day on Sunday so that run got moved again… I eventually did run on Monday and it was absolutely terrible! I had been feeling okay all day even though I did feel like a cold or something might’ve been coming my way.
On Monday I wrote a couple blog posts so I had been on the computer for pretty much the whole day. I did no warm up whatsoever (mistake) because I thought that I could just jog really slowly and warm up that way but noooo, my lungs decided otherwise. I’d ran maybe 200 meters before I suddenly felt this massive cramp- like pain in my chest and it just wouldn’t go away. At first I was seriously out of breath and the pain was pretty bad but after I just made myself go on for a bit, I was able to catch my breath again and could breathe quite calmly but the pain just wouldn’t go away. I kept on going at a very slow pace however and the pain faded enough that I decided to just push through and do it regardless. The chest pain never went away completely but with some serious will power, I jogged a full 3k in pain.
This might sound pathetic but in the moment every single stride was a win. I could only count my breaths and tell myself to keep on picking my knees up, one after the other. I felt absolutely miserable. How could it be possible that I’ve been gradually building up my runs and strengthening training for weeks on end and still feel like this going at a snail pace? Was I literally the only person in the entire world that just could not run? I’ve not felt so discouraged in a long time. I wasn’t even proud that I actually finished the run without stopping once when I got back. The feeling of accomplishment didn’t even cross my mind. All I could think about was complete and utter failure. The time for that was only on the next day when I had gotten over the initial disappoitment. Only then could I realize what I’d accomplished by not giving up and pushing through the discomfort.
I was a bit disturbed about how long it took for the pain and wheezing to go away and before my breathing was completely back to normal. All in all, it probably took a couple hours until I couldn’t feel the discomfort at all. I was a bit worried and started researching possible causes for my experience because googling your symptoms is always a great idea! Eventually I came to the conclusion that the likely cause was just the combo of being a bit sick and not warming up properly.
I just wanted to share this experience to bring up the realities of any sport. Especially for beginners such as myself it can be really devastating and it can often cause us to just quit and give up. Which is perfectly normal and human by the way. We begin to think that we’re the only person ever to have such a hard time and this easily leads to feeling miserable and hopeless. I just wanted to remind you guys (and myself) that every single person has these feelings every once in a while. Even the pros, trust me. The difference is that the pros have been beaten down and gotten up possibly hundreds of times. They have experienced it so many times as well as the reward of not giving up that they know what awaits them if they push through and keep on grinding. Beginners like me haven’t necessarily experienced getting that reward yet but believe me, it’s there.
For me, the reward for now is to finish my first 5k race in September with dignity. If you’re struggling, keep on going. Keep taking baby steps every single day. You have nothing to lose! Every day, people achieve something that they wouldn’t have dared dreaming of before. You don’t have to run a marathon or win a race to be your own personal winner. On the other hand, if you never fail and everything you do just feels like a breeze, ask yourself if you should move on to the next level.
I don’t know if this post had any other point than to vent out some thoughts that I’ve been having on my mind. It might be that I’ve made some personal breakthroughs and new realizations lately and just wanted to share them with you. I actually went orienteering the next day after this ’’failure’’ and the course was 3,1k. Again I made the same mistake of not really warming up and I got the same kind of cramping pain in my chest after a few hundred meters. This time, I stopped to breathe and gather myself for a bit and then kept on going. I struggled slightly for the first 1k or so but after that, something happened and the bad kind of discomfort just disappeared. I did feel fatigued but in a ’’good’’ and manageable way. I just felt like I was working my way through the course one stride at a time. I even picked up my pace significantly in the last couple hundred meters. At the finish, I was only a bit out of breath but after maybe half a minute of deep breaths I was completely fresh again and breathing with ease. I feel like had I given up on the day before, I would’ve been so discouraged that I wouldn’t have even tried the orienteering on Tuesday and I would’ve missed this ’’win’’ entirely. So I guess all I wanted to say is keep going, you will not regret it. All the gains are totally in your grasp so go get them!