"Progress over perfection!"
"The only person I can try to be better than, is the person I was yesterday."
"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." - (for real, this is a Ben Franklin quote)
Progress is defined as the forward or onward movement, as toward a destination.
I understand. We like to see progress and improvement. I worked in the quality control field for a few years and Continuous Improvement was a big deal back then. I am afraid it still is. In manufacturing, it's probably a good thing. But in fitness, it can be torture.
Do I really have to ALWAYS be better than I was yesterday? That sounds so exhausting. So much so that I'd like to quit right now. How can I possibly maintain that level of focus? I have a life, you know! All I hear in this is "Never enough! Never enough! Never, ever good enough!"
For fitness to last, we're talking life long, it cannot come from a place of, "Sorry darlin'. No matter how hard you try, it will never be good enough. You can enjoy your hard work for 5 seconds, then get moving. You have improvements to make." Ugh!
I believe what's much more important than always improving, is staying with it for the long haul.
Have you been out for surgery? Take time to heal, move when you can, and get back to it when you are ready. You haven't lost your fitness. Every single thing you've ever learned through your efforts is still within you. It is yours now. It is knowledge and personal growth. Put it back into practice as soon as your body (and your physical therapist) allows.
Do you have an injury? Foot pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, back pain? It is common, and part of being active while aging. (I'm 50, I can say that now.) I believe dealing with an occasional athletic injury is much better than dealing with the injuries and illnesses associated with aging and inactivity, but I understand it still hurts and it is frustrating. I always try to remember that my body wants nothing more than to heal, and it will if I give it the right opportunity. Find ways to cross train. Stay out of fear. Your injury will heal.
Did you lose your motivation and step away from fitness for awhile? That is alright! Just get it back and get back to it. You know this one. Motivation is created within us by doing something, by taking action. So go for a walk or run, lift some weights, and get that fire back. You are still on your fitness journey, whether you worked out today or not. You do not get kicked off the fitness path for losing your footing.
I started doing half marathons in 2003. As I was preparing for this post, I got curious about what my half marathon journey looks like. I know what I want it to look like: a perfectly straight line of improvement. PR (personal record) after PR of faster and faster times. That's the top graph in the photo. The bottom graph is what it actually looks like. Quite different. I feel the frustration of that squiggly line at times.
But then I get a wave of clarity and gratitude, and I see the Truth. I am still out there. I am still doing it! Through a major back injury, two bouts of plantar fasciitis, knee surgery, kidney disease, divorce, starting Clear Rock Fitness, and everything else that's gone on in 12 years of fitness and life.
So to heck with you, Continuous Improvement!
Cheers and love to my wild, squiggly line. That's MY fitness. That's MY running.
That's my life and it can be any shape I decide.
And so can yours.