Last month, I reached one of my biggest goals and ran my first 21K. It wasn’t really a goal I’d set myself for 2017, but deep inside something I knew I wanted to prove myself one day that I was capable of doing.

And so, one day when the kids were playing at a friend’s place and I was off work, I decided to give it a try. It was freezing cold, just barely above freezing temperature, but I didn’t mind. I actually like running in the cold and prefer it to the heat, which doesn’t work well for my body. I allowed myself a break here and there (a maximum of 5 minutes total) over those 2 hours and 25 minutes and although by the end I was getting fed up, bored and hurting, I pulled it through.

I was super proud – for about the minute I shared it with my friends on social media. I walked back home and as the dusk was settling, I realized that the cold had numbed my shoulders into a cramped, frozen position. My legs weren’t very steady, but I thought to myself:  No problem, I’ll just lie down a minute or two and I’ll be just fine.

But the minute the living room heat struck my body, I almost collapsed. I spent the rest of the evening in bed, unable to drink or eat from the stomach cramps and nausea. I couldn’t even stretch my legs to avoid any heavy pain the day after, which I knew I would regret. The next day, I was hurting really bad: dehydrated, stomach a mess, my joints hurted like hell and with a throbbing headache from the lack of water (I had only manage to drink two glasses over the 15 hours following the run).

I’d had issues with long distance runs, so my body’s reaction wasn’t exactly new to me. But I thought that was over, as I’d managed to work myself up to regular 10K runs and the odd 13 or 15K once in a while. My body wasn’t ready for it. I had pushed it way too far from what it could take to reach my imagined goal, and hurt myself badly in the process.

Now I not only know for sure that I won’t ever try a 21K any time soon again, but also carry not a feeling of achievement, but rather of disappointment with me. I didn’t see what my real goals should be, getting and staying fit, making my body stronger and improving my posture, and finding a healthy balance between working out and the rest of my life.

But what this painful experience taught me was that I have to reanalyze my goals and formulate them in a way that makes them realistic and healthy. That reaching them will provide me with heightened self-esteem and pride and not on the contrary, pull me down further into depression.

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