Last year a former student of mine wrote for advice as she was burnt out on the cello. She was highly gifted, but she didn’t enjoy even playing pieces she had chosen any more. I urged her to schedule a recital or to try and do a summer music festival since often having a goal will be a great motivation to dig back in again. Finding the strength or self-confidence to do so can be hard without support. As I gave her advice, I realized that I had been avoiding scheduling a recital myself and felt hypocritical. Shortly after speaking to her I scheduled a solo recital. The hours I spent practicing and preparing mentally got me thinking a lot about how similar goals in music and sports are.
In sports this past month, my ankle injury and surgery have put dampened some of my drive and I am struggling with how to stay motivated. Fortunately, I can still bike and swim. I have to be careful about not loading too much resistance or bike in too high of a gear, but I count my small blessings and have had some good, long workouts this week. In the past I pushed through a lot of pain in my ankle because I have a lot of determination and stubbornness. I am learning the importance of cutting back when it is too much. Sometimes it is great to be on the sidelines and watch my son or friends perform.
Today I got to cheer on my friends from the Running from Romney team. We had awesome t-shirts made with our dogs driving a car with Mitt tied on top. Although I was not running today due to my slow ankle recovery, I was happy for my friends that are well on their way to meeting their goal of the Madison half-and full marathon. My friends Diana and Sue are both busy moms but managed to carve out some time for themselves to run, and Sue’s kids were thrilled to see the example of a strong mom and cheer her to the finish line.
At the time of my operation, I thought I would be running the 10k today. As my recovery progressed, I modified that goal to the 5k and a few weeks ago my physical therapist and I agreed that I needed to back off my running recovery walk/run plan until my tendons have more flexibility as I was having pain. This has been hard as I tend to always make the goals I set. There is a limit to what pain you can run through, however, and I need to take care of my ankle so I can meet future goals. My operation was a last resort after running and even walking with pain for years after spraining my ankle in a sledding accident with my son. I had stuck my foot out to “save the day” as we hit a fence, and in addition to the sprain, my ligament had pulled off the ankle bone with a small chip. After trying PT, rest, ice, ibuprofen and a whole 6 months without running, I decided to heed the surgeon and try surgery to release the tendons and muscles that had become damaged by the injury. For all of you medically inclined, the technical jargon was “endoscopic gastrocnemius release, flexor hallucis longus tenolysis, ankle arthroscopy and debridement of the arthrofibrosis in the anterior aspect of the joint, as well as debridement and microfracture treatment of the OCD lesion in the central lateral talar dome, subtalar arthroscopy and synovectomy, and peroneal tenolysis and excision of the low-lying peroneus brevis muscle.” What a mouthful! The combination of all of the scoping of joints and releasing of muscle means that I have a longer recovery than someone who just had a knee scope to remove inflamed tissue or cartilage. The impact of running is very hard on tendons and also the ankle joint that they repaired. I’m sure I will be back in it and doing triathlons and a half-marathon in the fall, if I am careful.
I’ve found that a lot of my friends on social media have been inspired by my exercise posts and this blog. Below are five steps I’ve done to make meeting my goals successful. All of these steps easily apply to music if you change a race to a concert or a workout to a practice session.
1. BE PREPARED: Like the Boy Scouts, I always am ready. My gym bag is packed and equipped with everything I need for a post-workout shower, as well as a clean change of tshirt and underwear. This is most often in my car. I try to always have a dry swim suit in it.
2. BE ACCOUNTABLE: Work-out buddies. They are the best. There is also an app on my Iphone called “Gym Pact.” You have to go to the gym minimum three times a week for at least 30 minutes (it logs this by GPS) or pay $5 (or whatever you decide) to the company. If you meet your goal, they split the earnings from people who did not meet their pact and pay it out. In general, this is not more than $2 a week, but it covers the cost of parking and is a great incentive to get to the gym regularly. Share you goals and successes with others. You might inspire a Facebook friend or family member.
3. HAVE A SHORT-TERM GAME PLAN: Always plan a workout length or distance. This will keep you from copping out when the going gets rough. This is your short-term goal, like working on speed (fartleks), hills (strength), endurance (distance), or just taking it easy and doing a recovery work-out. Decide how many times a week you can and want to weight-lift. This is important to prevent injury. There are many free running plans online.
4. AIM HIGH: Have long-term goals. This might be running your first 5k, half-marathon, marathon or triathlon. Sign up ahead of time for the race so you HAVE to do it.
5. THINK POSITIVE: Don’t ever compare yourself to others. There will always be others that might be faster or slower, older or younger. Just revel in your own personal records and push yourself to do things you thought formally impossible. Everyone progresses at different rates, but no one accomplishes anything without trying. Focus on crossing the finish line and how that will feel, not on how hard the race or workout will be.