I finally completed my first-ever 5K walk yesterday. I have to admit that it wasn’t easy. However, the feeling of accomplishment from reaching an important fitness milestone made those grueling minutes well worth the effort.
I have wanted to do a 5K walk for about five months. During this time period, there were many occasions which I planned on setting aside some walking time, but ‘life’ always got in the way. Well, at least that’s the excuse I use. To be honest, I simply chose to do other things instead. My walk yesterday was not planned ahead at all. Maybe spontaneity was the motivational spark that I needed.
The past couple months have been a struggle for my new healthy lifestyle. I fell off the wagon hard. One vacation of no exercising and snacking turned into a road back to the unhealthy habits of the past. I started eating all kinds of junk food, avoided any sort of portion control, and stopped all of my workouts. I needed something to put me back on track. Achieving my 5K goal did just that.
As mornings go, yesterday started out like any typical day. However, it slowly turned into a high stress day. All things considered, I have a pretty good life so I don’t want to seem like a whiner. Feelings about the unhealthy habits, finances, career, etc. were more depressing than normal. I took a step back in my healthy diet and had tortilla chips for my morning snack…lots of them. My bad feelings and poor eating choice, combined with the day’s work issues, and missing a lunch date with my wife, pushed me to want to take a short escape to clear my head. The weather was great and it was an at-home office day. I thought a walk down our country back roads would be a perfect break.
I grabbed my water bottle and phone, tightened up my sneakers, and headed out the door for a walk. I originally had no direction or plan. A few steps into the walk, I thought, “why not make this my 5K?” But, I trained for it back five months ago…had too much time gone by? I hadn’t walked for more than 20 minutes in the past few months…am I too out of shape? What if a work emergency happens…shouldn’t I stay close to home? The snack I ate was a ton of calories…would any amount of exercise be worth it? My son and my wife wanted to be around for my first 5K…shouldn’t I wait and do another day with them?
The potential excuses piled on that created all sorts of reasons for me to not do my 5K walk. But something happened that made me ignore all of them and go for it. That something was making a single decision: JUST GO. I wanted to achieve this important goal and having the opportunity to do so at that moment was too hard to pass up. I decided to walk until I couldn’t anymore, work would be there when I got back, those tortilla chips had to be worked off, and my family would understand that doing something healthy for me benefits them, too.
I decided before heading out that I would not bother using the stopwatch on my phone to get an exact time. This was not a race, time is not important. Making the distance was my only goal.
So, I walked. I knew I may not make the 5K distance. However, I was determined to give it my best and resolved myself to the fact that doing something is better than doing nothing.
A few steps into it, I remembered that a few months ago we used our car’s odometer to calculate the 5K distance. This was a short term goal of mine that I hoped would fuel my long term goal of actually going the distance on foot. We spray painted a small mark in the road to signify where 2.5K was. This would be my half-way point that I could use for a turn around. I wondered if it would still be there. If it disappeared, I would still know how far to go because I remembered the house there.
And, I walked. I focused on proper walking form that I learned from SparkPeople. I tried to remain at a constant, brisk pace. I took sips of water.
A few minutes into the 5K, my lower back started to tighten up and become painful. I have had lower back issues since my teenage years. I thought if the pain got worse, that could mean the end of my 5K. I walked.
Minutes after the back pain started, reflux heartburn kicked in. The unhealthy snack I ate earlier was determined to become another hurdle in this journey. I walked.
My trek took me past the area that for years I thought would be a perfect spot for our dream home. As I walked by, my thoughts turned to our rough financial situation. I muttered to myself, “building a home there will never happen”. I walked.
When I encountered my first incline, my feet were sore. My breathing became much heavier walking uphill. I realized I was even more out of shape than I thought. I walked.
A funny thing occurred midway to the turn-around point: an involuntary smile appeared on my face. My back pain subsided just a bit, sips of water helped calm the heartburn, and I realized that I was actually doing this 5K. I walked.
About fifty yards before the turn-around point; I noticed a street sign that I never saw before. The name of the street, Hard Road, hit me like a brick and became a symbol for my journey. I chose to take the ‘hard road’ today, and was proud of myself for it. Some challenges have to be overcome in order for great things to happen. I walked.
At the turn-around area, the 2.5K spot previously spray painted no longer existed. This was another symbol for me. Just like that spot, the best 5K intentions I had months ago disappeared. I had a relapse in my healthy lifestyle. This walk is my spark to press the reset button and start again on my quest for a better life. I walked.
I used trees I remembered from before as my guide. I made sure to walk past the area where the spot used to be. I didn’t want any doubt in my mind that I went the complete distance. I made the turn at the approximate 2.5K+ point, and I walked.
Headed back now. I noticed what perfect day it was. Reaching the half-way point was an incredible milestone. All I had to do now was return home and my goal would be achieved. I felt confident and positive. I walked.
I reached the return pass by the area of our future dream home. I gazed at the spot and actually envisioned the house on the land. I imagined grandchildren playing and laughing, and dogs running around the property. I pictured the gazebo we always wanted in the front yard. When the area fell out of site, I began to think of the steps that would be required in order for us to fix our financial situation and begin planning on building there. I walked.
Near the end of my 5K, I finally crossed the pseudo finish line without realizing it. I walked past that point with my thoughts clear and positive. Achieving this goal gave me a refreshed outlook on life. I thought about making sure that we would have a healthy dinner that night. I thought about when my next 5K walk would be.
I did it.
Deciding to do the 5K walk was a life-changer for me. Instead of giving into my failed attempt of a healthy lifestyle and continuing to move backwards, I picked myself back up and took a step forward (well, actually many real steps forward). Accomplishing that goal gave me the confidence, power, and desire to achieve more.
If you get stuck in your healthy lifestyle journey, and have an opportunity to take a step forward, JUST GO. The results can be amazing.