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This week we are welcoming guest writer Dana Shulman to the blog!
Dana is a friend of Pongo Power, as well as an actor and avid runner. She has started a movement called #Fauc25k, which aims to introduce (or reintroduce) running- or any movement for that matter- with no judgment!
Anyway, we'll let Dana tell you her story...
In March 2020, I was one month away from going to London to run in my first international marathon which would be my 19th marathon overall.
To be honest, I was tired. Real tired. I had been running marathons every season, 2-3 a year, for the last 7 years. I was always in training. I couldn’t fathom the idea of skipping a big race. Marathoning fueled by FOMO. Do not get me wrong, I love running marathons; however, I didn’t see a possible end to the cycle.
My body and mind needed a break. I did not expect that break to finally come in the form of a full blown pandemic and quarantine.
Suddenly I had the perfect reason to take it easy on the running. They cancelled the London Marathon. They cancelled hugging. They cancelled everything. Here it was, my opportunity to finally NOT run a marathon because NOBODY could run a marathon. There would be no FOMO. Here was the break I so desperately needed but was afraid to take.
I threw my energy and efforts into projects that didn’t involve running. This wasn’t intentional; it was just kind of what happened. I was working around the clock and felt so busy that I hardly even noticed that I wasn’t getting any exercise. I had gone from an average of 30,000 steps a day to maybe 80 on a good day if I had to go to the bathroom a few times.
I became very busy and very sedentary very fast.
My running break lasted longer than the couple of weeks I anticipated. In some ways I was angry at running and got angrier as the days went passed. I missed coaching my runners. I missed cheering at races. I missed sweaty high fives and water fountains and even port-a-potties. I was pissed when I nervously snuck out to the grocery store and a runner passed me with a mask tied around their elbow. I was scared and angry and hurt.
Months went by and I would look at the wall of medals next to my bed and think WHO RAN ALL THOSE THINGS. I couldn’t fathom that it had been me. I contemplated taking them all down. I felt I had failed my running friends and community and I must be a huge disappointment to the people I coached.
People were dying. I lost multiple running heroes this year. I lost a woman I had coached and run with. I lost the man who inspired me to start running in the first place. I lost friends who reminded me of the joy of running. I was deeply sad. I took it out on running.
Ahhhh, the stages of grief.
And then it was June 2021. Here we are. I haven’t been running. I am out of shape. I am finally less angry and less afraid, but I am frustrated. WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF? Running could have been a great outlet for me this past year, but I didn’t lean on it. Regret, regret, regret.
You know what is impossible to run through? Regret.
So it’s time for a plan. I am vaccinated and ready to get back to it. Welcome to the #Fauc25k, a non-plan plan that I hope will resonate with some of you. I know that I cannot be alone in needing something like this.
I am very lucky to have wonderful running friends who are not willing to let me lay around in a pool of regret. So that’s where my non-plan plan will begin.
1. ALLOW HELP
You are not alone. If you don’t have anyone else, now you have me. See? Not alone. Hi, I’m Dana.
2. DON’T COMPARE
Remember and appreciate your old level of fitness, but put it down. You’ll get back there…or you won’t. Who cares? Running and fitness is not all about numbers…it’s about you…and this is who you are now. Oh and definitely don’t compare yourself to someone else, that’s just silly. Why are you wasting time on that nonsense when you could be out there moving?
3. FIND A GOAL
Maybe it’s not the London Marathon right now and that’s okay. I’m choosing the Front Runners/ NYRR Pride Run on June 26th, 2021. It’s a 6k, which is a silly distance and an automatic PR - cause who has ever “raced” a 6k?
I know I can do it TODAY if I wanted to because I know that I can walk it or crawl it or even whine through the whole darn thing while eating a burger if I had to.
My goal is to do it with a smile because my friend Adam who just passed would have done it with the biggest smile ever. I can do this run for me AND for Adam, and that somehow takes some of the pressure off the FOR ME part of that.
4. MOVE MORE
...today than you did yesterday. Remember: walking is moving and moving is a huge freakin’ privilege. Think about the people we have lost that would love to go for a walk. Look at the trees. Enjoy some mask-less time. Breathe. Whoa. We can do that now.
5. REDUCE NEGATIVITY
I have to stop saying things to myself that I would NEVER say to the runners I have coached.
Would I ever tell one of my runners that they would never run another marathon?
Would I ever tell one of my runners that they just don’t have the body to be a runner anymore?
Would I ever tell one of my runners that they screwed up really badly by not running for a year?
DUH, NO. So why would I say that to myself? I deserve kindness, especially from myself.
6. CELEBRATE EVERYTHING
You walked? WOO! You got new shoes? WOO! You did a yoga video? WOO! Replace all that yucky negativity with WOOs! It’s easier to make progress through the WOOs than the BOOs. I’m half excited and half ashamed that I just wrote something that cheesy… WOO!
So that’s the #Fauc25k plan, and I’m committed. I am planning on moving 5k 3-4 times a week. As we get closer to my first goal of the 6k on June 26th, I hope to be running more than I am walking; however, I WILL FINISH THAT RUN. So this is a plan that I will not be able to fail. There is no time goal. If I want, after that 6k, I’ll find another goal and maybe it’ll be faster than the one on June 26th, or maybe it’ll be longer, or maybe it’ll just be SMILIER.
Cheers to you and me as we each embark on our own #Fauc25k plans. You’ve got this and I will be cheering for you the whole way. Oh and I’ll be cheering for me the whole way too.
Life does not run on regret, life runs on moving forward- and gosh darn it, I am so grateful to be able to keep going in that direction.
Life is the ultimate marathon… and I know that I never stopped training for that one.
Meet the Author
Dana Shulman is an actor, improviser, teacher, coach, and silly long distance runner. She has run 19 marathons and will run some more someday. For now, she is enjoying coaching running and announcing races with New York Road Runners. Dana thrives on sharing her love of running and improv with her students of all ages. She is grateful for her cats Murphy and Monster, her husband Giancarlo, and all of her cheerleaders who come in the form of family, friends, and teammates.