Monday, 21 March 2011

LondonHeather, the slowest powerwalker in the east...

Powerwalking is my exercise of choice right now, and, as it turns out, a little pin that pricks at my pride each week.

I like walking, and I like walking fast, although I've never done it for the sake of doing it before (either mad dashes to get somewhere, or leisurely strolls with no particular purpose), and while I thought it might be a challenge, I assumed I'd be okay at it.  I am okay at it- in fact, I'm pretty good, by my standards.  I pretty much make it each week (rare for me to commit to any exercise regularly), I get up a pace that I try to maintain, and I get round the whole route, even when my calves are screaming at me to take a break.  By the standards of the group I walk with, I suck.  Okay, I don't suck, that's me being dramatic, but I'm not great because I am always the last one.  I am a slow powerwalker.  The women I walk with are great- they never make me feel bad, they always encourage me when we go out and when I finally return.  But I still feel hurt when I see them racing off ahead of me, and I feel inferior for lagging behind.  Particularly as I am one of the tallest in the group...long legs equals fast walking right?  Not for me.  So, I feel my pride take a hit as I push myself to keep going, to try to catch them up up, when I try to laugh as I realise it just isn't going to happen.

Today was particularly bad, as left alone with my thoughts I fell to berating myself for not being as good as the other women.  I've never been particularly athletic or energetic, and I've never had good stamina, ever.  But I've been known as a fast walker among my friends, and so I figured this would be easy, that I'd sail along at the front of the group.  How hard could walking fast be?  As I powered slowly round the route, I let the pity and anger wash over me, culminating in a big, "why bother?!" moment three-quarters of the way round.  It's true- why should I bother if I'm never going to match the other women?  Oh sure, I might catch up to their pace one day, but by the time I do, they'll have sped up even more.

But see, that's the lie.  If it's all about competing and being the best, then fair enough- it's unlikely to happen, and I may as well give up now.  Comparing myself to other people is something I'm quick to do, even though I know, I have learnt, that it is never a wise thing to do.  I either feel proud and superior (even if I don't mean to), or pathetic and inferior (even if I don't mean to).  Either way, I end up focusing on me and my brilliance/ineptitude, which is pretty selfish, proud, and just sucks joy out of any situation.  I've been trying to take decisive steps to stop doing that, but here it is again, sneaking up on me in my efforts to get fit.

But, if it really is all about getting fit, treating my body kindly by building up strength and stamina, by being in the (relatively fresh air) and soaking up some sunshine, then it's definitely worth the bother.  I hate being bad at things, and so I don't tend to stick with things that I find tough.  Fair enough, lots of people are like that, and sometimes it's good to realise your limits and instead focus on things you can do.  But, exercise and fitness isn't something I can choose to abandon if I want to take care of my health.  I can let the guitar playing go, and leave the party-planning to other people, but if I want to get fitter then I have to get off my arse.  No one else can do that for me.

And besides, challenges can be helpful sometimes.  It's good for me not to be good at this, to have something to work at.  Yeah, life is easier when things are easy, but where's the satisfaction?  

So, I am going to accept that my pride is likely to keep on getting dented, but believe that I am more than my pride and keep going.  And while walking with the ladies is great encouragement (and good for accountability to get out and move), I am going to choose to celebrate our differences.  Yes, I'm pretty lame compared with them, but compared with me and my history of exercise, I'm doing pretty good.  And wouldn't it be nice to just, for once, forget myself and all my issues, and instead enjoy the fact that I can walk in the first place, enjoy the feel of my muscles working hard, enjoy the scenes around me, enjoy the space away from my computer, and, eventually, enjoy the benefits of a healthier body?