The 12 Gifts of Fitness, Day 6: Resilience

“If you have one bad mile, don’t worry. Just run as comfortably as you can through it. The next mile might feel a whole lot better.”

Marathon running is like climbing a mountain. The goal is spectacular; but not every step will feel perfect. The key ingredient: Resilience. (Image courtesy of moggara12 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Marathon running is like climbing a mountain. The goal is spectacular; but not every step will feel perfect. The key ingredient: Resilience. (Image courtesy of moggara12 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

That quote right there is a paraphrase of what my running coach taught me about marathoning: it’s not all over if you have a “bad mile.” You can regroup, run a little more slowly, relax, breathe a little more deeply, and see if your energy comes back. The key to marathon running is to train the resilience to see the race through to its end, no matter what happens between the starting gun and the finish line.

Ah, resilience.

I’m thinking about resilience today, and how fitness gives it to us in spades (and for a whole lot more than our fitness lives, too) because a friend lost her job recently in a corporate-layoff situation that involved a lot of people. Difficult industry, tough times, and finally the company had to do what companies have to do from time to time: take out the spreadsheets and figure out how to cut costs. This time, a talented person whom I respect deeply was on the unfortunate “cut” list. The company won’t be the same without her.

But resilience will get her through it. And, wouldn’t you know…she’s an athlete. I have tons of confidence that she’ll bounce back better than ever.

Thinking back more than five years ago…it was October 2008, when the real axe of the Great Recession had just hit the U.S. economy, when I saw a number on the scale that I’d never seen before and had no idea what to do next. Forty pounds above my healthiest weight. And, no work to speak of; when the recession hit, companies went into lockdown mode and froze hiring. I was coming off a big work contract and figured the next contract was right around the corner. As it turned out, it was more than six months away. And I had a mortgage, on my own, to cover. And I was overweight.

Today, things are better. Much better.

What happened? It turned out to be a great time to start taking care of my health, in the end. I could cook at home (the better to be both healthy and frugal). I could take time to figure out what I really wanted from my work life going forward. And as I started to drop the weight (gradually and on my own at first, and then more effectively with a solid program to follow), I felt more confident and more sure of myself. I knew what career moves I wanted to make, and which ones to steer clear of (hint: the ones I’d be doing just “for the money”).

And I embraced fitness, in a pretty major way. I didn’t give up my gym membership; instead, I used it more often. The gym gave me the chance to be around other people, to be in a positive place, to set a daily goal and reach it. (My philosophy: workouts are pass/fail. If you showed up, you passed.)

Moral of the story: If you show up to your workout on a regular basis, you’re training resilience. That will help with the tough times. Guaranteed.

Recent Every48 workouts: SWIMMING and SPINNING have been my mainstays recently. There’s just something about swimming, especially when your mobility has been impacted (by injury, inactivity or other reasons – just check with your doctor before starting). I’m just loving the pool these days: two hours a week, minimum, with a group of like-minded swimmer people. Love it.

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