Breaking Impossible is all about setting big goals and challenging yourself, then achieving them step by step. We often bank on things like habits and routines, hacking them to improve our work outs and ourselves. These are powerful tools, and they really do work. But, all the time?
I have to admit, I’ve been wrestling with this question quite a bit lately! I accepted a new role, in a new (to me) studio, in a new country and a new culture. It’s a lot of disruption! Can habits really help me through? Is it a set back? Or an opportunity to set up all new habits?
Optimistically, I think: yes! They’ll help. Let’s see how I’ll set up those new habits and routines.
Realistically, I’m finding there just so much I hadn’t considered.
For one example, my legs.
They are killing me! My calves are constantly tight, and the bottoms of my feet feel like they’ve undergone medieval brickbat tortures. This isn’t exactly new, but they have suddenly become acute. The fact that I only have my clodhopper runners seems to only be adding to the misery. I simply hadn’t considered the change causing this much pain! Whether it’s because of the lengthy travel, or severe disruption to circadian rhythms, nerves and anxiety - or something else entirely. There it is.
Remaining as optimistic as possible, I’ve done my best to explore. Explore the pain itself, and also find the potential causes. At the very least, I get a sense that I can do something about it.
Step one has been to just “let it be.” I mean, you can’t “just sleep faster” (as my grandfather would often jokingly suggest). I took my new role in July, and worked mostly on the teams’ hours. That meant waking up around 3:30AM local time. No matter how I sliced it, it was never very good. That’s a three-month disruption, at a pretty fundamental level. For icing on the cake, I stayed up the whole way over here. It’s my own method for quickly getting over jet lag. I call it “breaking the alarm.” That, since the circadian rhythm is going to take a hit, you might as well use a hammer. No, I’ve never asked a doc about this. I’ve simply used it for a few decades. What can I say? It works for me. Indeed, while I started waking up a locally appropriate times within a day, poor wifey has instead suffered for 10 days (so far!).
Step two has been to renew my yoga habit. I am back to doing a modified Salutation to the Sun each morning, making for 15-30 minutes of stretching and strengthening a day. The exploration is to find exactly where the pain is, and then ease it out. A few breaths, a grimace or two and let it all slide into a better place. It’s been interesting because the tightness is all interconnected. I find that I must start with my lower back, to loosen up my calves! And some things seem perfectly normal - like my upper back and arms. Which always strikes me because, if you were to ask me, I’d say “I feel terrible.” When, in fact, only part of me is miserable. I’ve found this very useful! Optimism means seeing the body as half full, not half empty. Right?!
Step Three has been to try to get back into running, despite the pain. It’s a terrible irony that while running, I feel OK. The kinks slowly work themselves out, and I can settle into a reasonable cadence. I’m always pushing against a painful and sluggish feeling, but it’s when I stop that the pain begins. Sitting at my desk, or even sleeping, seems to just let the tightening begin and the pain hobbles me. I literally limp around!
To try to keep myself balanced, I have been relying on The Tech. My regular pace doesn’t feel like it. I have to look at my wrist and double confirm. I feel slow and sluggish and out of breath, but I look and my heart rate is fine. Even so, I trust the “perceived exertion” metric, and often “let it be” even when out for a run. I slow to a walk. I stop to take pictures. I take moments to orient myself in the landscape and strike out on new paths, finding my way.
Another balancing tool is to keep my friends and colleagues in mind. Take Michael! He’s also taking a trip around the world, to Hong Kong. He’s on the path to formally qualify for the 2022 Challenge. It is a wellspring of inspiration that we continue to work towards these goals “together, alone.” It’s not the same journey, but we learn a lot from the similarities, and even more from the differences. It’s why we often say: “we’ll see you out there.” We’d love to hear from you, what challenges you’re taking on and the things you’re learning!
Right now may seem like a lot to take in, but it’s not overwhelming. I engage a sense of adventure and exploration, plus a little faith that I’m indeed capable, and just keep taking the next step.
I may not get there first.
But I will get there.
We'll see you out there!