Once you’ve committed yourself to something, pace yourself to the finish line.
Meb Keflezighi (long distance runner)
In a previous post, I wrote about the power of our self narratives and the stories we repeat to ourselves. Sometimes those narratives are empowering and push us forward, while other times they can be a mental burden keeping us from optimizing our potential.
As part of my 2020 plan for world domination, I signed up for a half marathon. My earliest memories of running are from elementary school where every student was required to complete a battery of physical tests including 100 jumping jacks and a mile long run. I still remember the red brick hut that signified the quarter mile mark. I also remember hating it. Actually, I don’t think “hate” accurately describes how I felt about that one day of the school year. I was a slow runner and had what apparently was a funny, joke-worthy gait (according to my brutally honest and more athletically inclined peers).
Moving past elementary school, I don’t recall ever being asked to run again and I certainly never volunteered to do it. I maintained the narratives of “I hate running” and “I’m just not built for running” in my system. It’s funny how creative our excuses get when we don’t want to do something.
Fast forward to December of last year. I’m not really sure what happened but something triggered me to rethink that comfortable but limiting mantra. After all, am I so different from everyone else that I’m unable to run? Am I some freak of nature with special bones, rendering my body incapable of doing something that thousands of people do regularly? Absolutely not!
I resigned myself to really try to find out if I could enjoy running and stop anchoring my future to my past. I didn’t go on an Athleta shopping spree or purchase any fancy gadgets. I simply laced up and started running. I resigned myself to jogging as slowly as I needed to maintain a comfortable pace. My goal was just to keep going.
I ended up running 3 miles and was absolutely floored as I reached my last steps. I accomplished something that I always thought was out of reach for me (for whatever reason). It all clicked that day and now I’m up to 6 miles in one run. I didn’t need anything but a change in my dated perspective about what I could achieve and a determination to act on that change in a way that made sense for me.
That’s all it took.