As a softball player it was simple, hit the ball in an area that would allow me to get to first base or smack the sucker a quarter of a mile and try to get all the way around without passing out. In addition to softball I also played soccer and while we did a great deal of running, it was generally short bursts that would end after a pass down field or the ball went out of bounds. I also played football, but I was lineman, the extent of my “running” was basically getting on and off the field.
I can remember being in school and being told either in gym class or track practice to go run a mile. I’ve had the same reaction to that statement for as long as I can remember, “you cannot be serious!” You can take one look at me and know I’m not a runner!
Several of my friends are runners; they run 5ks, ½ marathons and full marathons! A few years back I got myself to the point where I could run a 5K, this was huge for me! Not only did I break the mile marker, I was running over 3 miles! But it was a short lived victory as I developed a condition called compartment syndrome in my leg. I won’t bore you with the specifics of it, but it required surgery and basically ended my running career.
Once I had surgery and stopped running I started something else…gaining weight! And once I gained weight I had multiple reasons not to run. For example, my knees and my back and ankles and my foot and the list goes on. While I’ve been working out for a few months now, running hasn’t really been on my radar and I’ve been pretty ok with that. While KB is a marathon coach she seems to be pretty content to leave me out of that mess…until now!
KB runs marathon training a few days a week and while MK attends them as often as possible, I have never even entertained the idea of going. They do all manner of crazy things, hill workouts, speed workouts and distance workouts. These things hold a place on my to-do list, right next to having a root canal! In my mind, the idea of going to a running event of any kind is nothing short of insanity.
It is not uncommon for MK, KB and I to have a group chat going on social media. We harass each other, encourage each other, complain about our workouts and complain about how perfect KB’s hair always seems to be. I made the mistake of saying that I had enjoyed doing two workouts on a day prior and MK "suggested" I come to the marathon workout that night. Once I stopped laughing I replied with something to the effect of “no”. At this point I figured I was relatively safe, KB had not commented and I went about my day.
Shortly before I left my office we got a massage from KB saying she would see both of us at marathon training. Wait…WHAT?!! HA HA…she can’t possibly be serious right? Yea, she was totally serious. <insert total panic here> This is a problem, this is clearly a challenge, but it’s one that I know in my mind I can’t do. What to do…what to do…what to do!! Looking back, the internal battle was intense, but a little funny. I had already chickened out of a swim workout last weekend and felt like crap for it; this would be the same if I didn’t go. But if I did go I had no doubt it would be nothing short of humiliating. What if my knees hurt? What if my heal hurt? What if my foot went numb? What if I tripped and fell flat on my face?! What if this and what if that. In the end my inability to turn down a challenge trumped everything else and I went.
I’m ashamed to admit that I walked on the track with a less than positive attitude. I was pretty damn sure that I was going to have an epic failure, but I figured if I did they wouldn’t make me come back. MK wasn’t there yet, which might have been a good thing…LOL! They were warming up with a lap around the track, that’s not a warm up for me, that’s a max distance. I hit half a lap in the time it took everyone else to finish a lap. My mind raced with things like “what the hell are you doing here?” “You are an idiot!” “Could you run any slower” …you get the point. For better or worse my own internal beat down kept me distracted and somehow I managed to get around the track. Then I did it again.
At some point MK arrived and I think I may have tried to strangle her. We moved on to two laps, crap! I had to take a break while the rest of the gazelles ran in circles like there was nothing easier in the world! As I stood there watching and being totally jealous the reality hit me, the only thing that was really in my way was me. I had let my mind decide that previous failures would dictate future attempts. No, I was not going to run a 6 minute mile, but who cares?
I started trotting around the track and KB ran with me, she clearly realized the issue and we had a little chat. She told me all the things I already knew but refused to see (I was too busy berating myself), I was getting around the track and really I was doing ok. I wasn't flailing around like a wounded animal and I was relatively consistent in my times. I did have an issue with my foot that took me out of the last couple of laps, but I had done a mile or so and that’s pretty good for me.
The point is there will always be obstacles that I cannot control, like the weather or how many hills are in a run or a ride, but how I think is totally within my control and has a profound impact on my performance. Things my happen that will prevent me from doing as much as I want, I my knees are not a fan of running, but that needs to stop being an excuse not to try at all. The single fastest way to fail is not to try at all.
I am glad that I went, I’m glad that I have great people in my life who believe in me! Did my running get any better? I’m not sure that really matters; there was a bigger lesson to be learned. I did considerably more than I thought I could and I figured out that I need to focus on what I can do and stop worrying about what I can’t. I need to get out of my own way! The question shouldn't be "what if you fail?" it should be "what if you succeed?"