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100 Miles with Me

I walked 100 miles in October and I am very proud of myself. It is quite the feat during a global pandemic! I was inspired by a friend who set this goal for herself in September, and I loved the way she talked about it. Getting all those steps in was a way to get her body moving even though all odds were stacked against her because of the pandemic. But she met her goal and I was determined to do the same.

Previous to said pandemic, I was working out around three to four times a week. I did group fitness classes where a trainer would guide us through the workout for the day. Having this guidance made going to the gym almost automatic, as I did not have to come up with what to do on my own and I was able to get an amazing workout without having to use my brain. I loved it! I could actually wrap my mind around going to the gym after a long day of work since I could just follow instructions without thinking too much. Then entering on stage left - a global pandemic. I do not need to get into it with too much depth, but it shut down my gym for months. They were offering free workouts in the home, all I would have to do is follow along on the computer. But the element of being in a room together was gone, that atmosphere and energy was now non-existent. I got lazy, plain and simple. And I do not see it as a bad thing as much as it was a fact. When the quarantine started, I really identified with the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory where my state of being was somewhere in the bottom of the pyramid where physiological and safety needs lived. Only the most important needs were getting met for months because that was all I could handle. Moving my body took a backseat to literal survival and I was okay with that. I even applaud myself for mentally and physically surviving the initial months of the shutdown, and you should celebrate yourself too.

As the weather got nicer and restrictions eased (for better or worse) my brain was able to process being social, responsibly of course. As I got used to living in the immediate "new normal," the more I wanted my multi-faceted lifestyle back. There were many things I still could not do safely but moving my body was one of the things I could embark on by myself. So why not walk 100 miles in the span of a month? Broken down by 31 days, 100 miles is not really a lot but I needed to be consistent. If I missed a couple days here and there, the miles would stack on the back end and I would end up having to do a 15-mile day to meet my goal. I also live in Chicago where the autumn season can bring chilly and rainy weather. I needed a plan designed to dodge the rainy days and still reach my goal.

I needed a plan designed to dodge the rainy days and still reach my goal.

The plan was to front-load the days in the beginning of the month so if I ever needed to miss a day because of rain, I would not lose ground. I started walking four miles even though I only needed to do just over three a day. I took my lunch breaks to get a couple miles in so I would only have to do two miles at the end of the day. Sometimes I would walk three miles after work to get five miles in total for the day to shave off miles on the end of the month. The plan was working! I found myself having more energy throughout the day because I had taken a brisk walk on my break. Before this goal, I would nap and would wake up energized for maybe an hour, then be ready for another nap. Now with exercising on a regular basis during the day, I did not feel tired or fatigued at all. I only thought about sleep at night when it was ready for bed. I also enjoyed seeing other people on the lake front path taking the time for a walk, run, or bike ride. For the most part people were wearing masks and giving each other space, and I felt comfortable being among them. I had my energy and atmosphere back with others working out with me in the same "room." I knew then that I could accomplish my goal of walking 100 miles in a month.

Let me take it back a little because I left something out. I signed up in February to run the Chicago Marathon that famously takes place in October. I had never, let me tell you, never ever signed up for anything like a marathon in my life. The longest I have run was a half marathon and that was hard enough, but now double that distance. Whew! But for whatever reason I felt a peace about running a marathon this year. I had the support of being with a team that would have group runs every week, and I was also going to keep cross training in the group fitness classes so my body could continue to get stronger as I built my endurance. The perfect plan was falling into place. And then Chicago shut down in the middle of March and that perfect plan suddenly turned to dust.

Waves of emotion washed over me as I walked opposite of the marathoners, trying to look them in the eyes and cheer them on but getting choked up at the same time.

I tried my hardest to stay on a training plan that I built for myself to get prepared for the marathon but ultimately the task became too daunting to tackle. I had made peace with the decision to not run months ago, but during a walk on Marathon Sunday, the reality of my decision hit me smack in the face. Marathoners stuck to their training plans and made it work for them in order to be ready for that fateful Sunday in October and here I was just walking a paltry three miles. Waves of emotion washed over me as I walked opposite of the marathoners, trying to look them in the eyes and cheer them on but getting choked up at the same time. Every decision I made up until that point was running through my head as I trudged against the marathon traffic. Had I given up too soon? Could my body have survived the harsh run if I had just given myself a chance? Was I a failure?

I had to cut those destructive thoughts off. I had to tell myself that my decision was sound and in my best interests, and I needed to believe it. I took a deep breath, got myself together, finished my walk, and looked forward to the next day when I could go walking again.

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