It’s Just Like Riding A Bike….Or Is It?

That old saying “It’s just like riding a bike” came back to me recently as I got back on my road bike after several months off during my pregnancy.

The doctor had given me the go ahead four weeks after my baby Henry was born and I was super excited to get back on the bike again.

And that old adage rang true.  After dusting off all the cobwebs and pumping up the tires, I got back on the bike.  Surprisingly, getting back on my roadbike – one that has served me well over thousands of miles, several races ranging from Ironman Triathlons to 100-mile century bikerides and has traveled the world with me – was very easy.  I rode for 60 minutes that first day, over varying terrain of flat and hilly roads, with a great sense of ease.  My body responded well.  I almost felt as if I had never left the bike.  Other than the saddle sores (a cyclist’s favorite pain) I endured these past several weeks being back on the bike and in spin classes again, this experience has been liberating to say the least.  Swimming came back just as easily, as if I had not stopped.  Other than regaining some cardio and strengthening my heart rate, my muscle memory bounced back quickly with two out of my three triathlon disciplines.

I am sure you can relate.  Has there been anything in your life lately that you have made the return to?  Something that you love and just had to give up for a bit, whether it be for work, family, health or simply the craziness of life?  There is nothing better than familiarity and getting back into the groove of mind, body and Spirit – truly feeling connected with yourself and fulfilled.

However, not everything can be related to that saying.  Not everything is as easy for the body and mind to return to.  Not everything is like riding that bike.  Sometimes I get to be a beginner again and start all over now that my baby is getting older and my body is attempting to return to it’s triathlete status.

Case in point, I started running just two weeks after the biking/swimming routine began again.  I had high expectations that my return to running would be just as successful as the other two sports.  I mean, after all, my first love is running.  It should be easier than “riding a bike”, right? 
My body has been doing it the longest these past 15 years or so.  I was running 5ks, half-and full-marathons long before I donned that biking helmet or swim cap.

Yet, I was humbled those first two miles on the beach trail.  Actually, I was humbled in the first few steps of that beach trail.

I couldn’t even make it one full mile without huffing and puffing.  My legs weren’t excited at all about the pounding I was exerting upon them by shuffling forward with each step.  My heart rate went through the roof.  My side had an ache I hadn’t experienced in YEARS.  I call it the “beginner’s stitch”.  You’ve probably experienced it yourself.  That ache just under the ribs that makes it hard to breathe and caused me to walk a few minutes just to be able to lightly run/jog again.

I walked/jogged those first two miles as if I had never run a marathon or completed an Ironman Triathlon.  My return to running was anything but familiar.  Both my mind and body groaned at the end.  My face was red from the exertion and my heart rate took longer than expected to recover. 

As I leaned over to stretch my legs, they, too, groaned with disgust. 
“Why do you love this sport so much?”,  they seemed to ask.

Have you ever felt that way?  You decided to return to something you once experienced before with ease - whether it be a career, a relationship, a sport – and yet you found yourself struggling to remember what it was about that experience before that was so wonderful or so easy.  You realized that you would have to work at it again, maybe not as a true beginner as before, yet you weren’t going to get the opportunity to ease back into it without making a serious, concerted effort.  You had a new beginning.  A new opportunity to start over and experience yourself in a different way.

Already, in the past several runs I’ve logged, I learned three new things about myself in this return to my favorite sport that I wanted to share. 

1.  Nothing that I love (ie running) comes back easy once I take time away from it, therefore I don’t want to take things for granted as I am experiencing them.  I enjoy being a new beginner again.
2.  I’ve got to work at it every day in some capacity (no matter what) in order to get stronger and healthier in order to get the results I want.
3.  No matter what happens, I get to enjoy the journey and learn more about myself with every step, no matter how painful, challenging or difficult it might be – there will be rewards along the way in mind, body and Spirit.  

Ironically, these same three things can be applied to my life as well as running - whether it be relationships, my career, my new role as a mom – or anything that I greet that has challenges within it.  And with these three things I can definitely see growth and results in my life in a more meaningful way.

And for that I am grateful that not everything in life is as easy to return to like riding a bike.

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