Keeping you ON PACE

By Michelle Collie, Providence, RI

Michelle Collie, physical therapist, entrepreneur, mother and runner offers strategies and motivation to keep you exercising–on pace—year- round.

At our work holiday party in December, a colleague and fellow runner Brian Hay challenged me to a race. Always up for a competition, I agreed.  We shook hands and started training for the Cox Marathon in May. At 42 years of age, I knew I would have to train hard and wisely to beat Brian, a healthy, 30-something-year-old man who recently completed a 50-mile ultra-marathon.

In the early phase of my training for the Cox marathon, I ran with a heart rate monitor to build up my aerobic threshold. I followed a training plan consisting of long, slow runs, tempo runs, hill training and Yasso 800’s. I stretched, strengthened, foam-rolled, and had massages and intermittent trigger point dry needling to address underlying injuries. My goal was two-fold: to beat Brian and to run a personal best.

May 4th was the big day and due to an injury, Brian was unable to run. His role changed from competitor to supporter, handing me water at the halfway point.  Now, my goal was to simply run a personal best. The result?  I failed to beat my PR. And I was not happy! My friends and family congratulated me on my accomplishment. Rather than graciously accept their praises, I responded with what I considered legitimate excuses for not running faster, including but not limited to, “It was so windy,”  “My hip hurt,” “I went out too fast,” and finally “I have allergies.”

Competing in a race can be compared to a project at work, completing a list of errands, or following through with commitments made to family and friends. In our busy lives, we often don’t follow through with projects, errands and commitments, and the excuses come easily. “My colleague didn’t do their part of the project,” “My kids were sick,”  “I didn’t have time.” Sound familiar? Excuses are predictable, safe and boring.  The first habit of Stephen Covey’s famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “be proactive.”  Being proactive means being accountable for our decisions and actions, successes and failures.  Being accountable takes courage.

When I think back to my post-marathon behavior, I regret the list of excuses I broadcasted.  I wish I had simply said thank you to the messages, texts and tweets. This experience made me think of the importance of being accountable in my everyday life. Work project not complete? Apologize and share your plan of action. Miss a commitment you made to a friend? Call and acknowledge your mistake and make a plan to get together another time.

This month, I encourage you to compete in a race. Distance does not matter. Choose a marathon, a 5K, even 100 meters. And it doesn’t need to be running. You can sign up for a biking, swimming or walking race. I respect those who prefer not to put themselves through the anxiety, nervousness and pain that comes with competing and pushing your body to its limits in a race. So, why do I make such a proposition? Competing in a race has many parallels with the challenges of life we are confronted with on a daily basis. It’s worth considering that a commitment to healthy competition and exercise is not only good for your physical health, it’s good for your soul. It reinforces good habits and behavior, including being accountable. I challenge you – for the next month, no more excuses!

Michelle Collie PT, DPT, MS, OCS is a Physical Therapist, the owner and CEO of Performance Physical Therapy. She lives on the East Side of Providence with her husband and 2 children. She can be reached at [email protected]

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