Time has been disappearing on me recently... I genuinely have no idea where June went! That means I have a lot of posts that I've been meaning to do for ages and it was hard to know where to start. But something that has stuck with me was my first post-op event...
What feels like years ago, in the weeks before my knee op, I wanted to set a goal for myself to get back to a reasonable level of fitness not too long after the surgery. The experts kept telling me I'd be back to 'normal' after six weeks but they couldn't clarify if that was normal for me (ie running, yoga etc) or just being able to walk without crutches, so I didn't want too massive a goal but was still keen on something that would push me.
That's when the lovely PT Mollie happened to post a link to the Goonie Run... I'm a HUGE fan of the Goonies and it didn't hurt that they had some audacious bling as a reward. Plus, you could do anything from one lap (about 5k) to a full marathon, so if my fitness was better I could keep pushing myself. Well, that was the idea anyway.
How could I say no to the chance to own this bad boy?
Cue about three months after I signed up and the morning of the race and I was scared. Not so much about doing the 5k--I'd been walking 5k for a over a week and my knee was holding up well and not too painful--but about what the other runners would think and if they would judge me. This was never going to be a PB and I knew I'd have to walk most, if not all, of it. This was the first time I'd felt that fear of judgement and the fear of others being annoyed that my slowness might be getting in the way.
I was sick with the worry that I'd be judged by other runners and feel out of place, my stomach was a ball of twine twisted tight. So much so that I almost didn't leave my house that morning. I debated with myself for a long time before finally throwing myself into the shower, tossing stuff in a bag and sprinting (figuratively...) out the door. The worry stayed with me all the way to the venue where I collected my race number (100 -- a good omen I thought!) and mentioned to the woman giving out numbers that I would be a bit slow and asked if there was a passing side or any rules and her answer, with a very reassuring smile, was 'Don't worry! This isn't that kind of run.' Suddenly I was a lot more relaxed as I waited for the briefing.
Pre-race brief by Sloth. Of course.
From there on, I loved the rest of the experience. Phoenix Running organised an absolutely brilliant run, with snacks at the turning point, lap wristbands to keep track of how many laps you'd done (for the record I just did my one!) a bell to ring when our finished as many as you wanted and a massive piece of bling the size of my head! I managed a time of a little over 46 minutes for the just-over-5k lap, with a bit of limpy jogging mixed with the walking on the first half and although I was last or second-to-last runner for the entire lap, I was always cheered on by fellow runners and cheered them on, too, and never once felt like I was in anyone's way or out of place.
Medal the size of my head! Even better than I'd imagined.
I would definitely do another of their events and only wish they had them on weekends more often (this particular one was on a Tuesday morning).
Aside from the fantastic event, though, this was a big learning experience for me. I've never really experienced that fear of going to the gym or an event before now, or that sense of intimidation--whether real or perceived--that lots of other people have felt and have put them off fitness. It was a huge eye-opener to a very real barrier and makes me feel even more strongly that inclusiveness in the fitness industry and a health industry built around true health and not #fitspo or six packs is still something we need to continue to work towards.
I'm so glad I didn't let my own fear stop me this time around and I hope I'll be able to face it down if it ever crops up again.
Have you ever felt too intimidated or scared to go to the gym, join a class or do an event? What did you do to work around or overcome your fears?