Last year I walked the Disney Princess Half Marathon. The camaraderie was terrific, excitement was in the air, and we challenged ourselves both physically and mentally. While training up and down my street, a picturesque, 7 mile long river road, I had a lot of time to think about what I was doing. I noticed how far I could push myself, when I was over-fatigued and how many days it took to recover to my normal energy level. I also remembered lessons I’d learned over the years, bits of wisdom from those more experienced and wiser than myself. Since I am now fully moving into the older and wiser time of my life, I wanted to share some wisdom:
- Treasure Your Body. Don’t take it for granted. Your body is your experience of you made physical. It is not something separate from you. Honor your body by caring lovingly for it, give it what nutrients it needs and deserves. Hydrate, rest, and move.
- Listen to Your Body. Be mindful of your body’s communications, through messages of fatigue, hunger, discomfort and other sensations. Then respond as if you are taking care of a loved one. (you are)
- Eat until 75% Full. In this way your digestive system is most effective at digesting, absorbing, and eliminating the food you eat. When we stuff our stomachs to full capacity we inhibit optimal function, taxing our system, pulling down our energy levels that should be reserved for other things.
- Exercise to 75% Capacity. Exercise should give you more energy if done right, not make you tired and listless the rest of the day. If it does, you are overdoing it for you present physical condition. Gradually increase your activity if you are beginning an exercise program.
- Get at Lease 8 Hours of Sleep! A cornerstone of wellbeing, without enough sleep we become vulnerable to many maladies. Begin to settle down and don’t do stimulating things in the evening leading up to bedtime. Be in bed by 10 or 10:30. The more we learn about how sleep affects us the more we know how important it is to a healthy, happy life.
I went somewhat off this wisdom in my training for the half marathon. I committed to doing this for a birthday to show myself how capable I still am, but in doing so I discovered how this push was just a little too much for me. If I ran, my knees would begin to hurt, so I did listen and kept to a walk. In my training I went up to 8 miles. The half marathon is 13.1. Around mile 10 my body began to tighten up. My legs started losing flexibility, and by mile 12 my hips tightened. By mile 13 my gait was stiff, and of course, days later, after a massage, loosening up—I was still a bit tired. So in the end it was a wonderful experience, but it was unkind to my body. If I had trained more, longer, perhaps I could have prevented some of this, but I’m not so sure it is something I am willing to do again. Some people are willing to make the sacrifices to have the rewards that come from doing this. But the way I look at it, for me, if I continued, I would be doing harm to my body over time. I will stick to my walking, yoga, biking, and leave the marathons to other people.