Oh how I hated running! I hated it so much so that while in High School I came up with an absurd excuse to get out of our weekly Cross Country runs that actually worked. I managed to convince the Games Master, who coordinated the runs that my legs were too heavy to engage in running.
The fact that he bought the excuse and exempted me from what was considered by many, a nightmare, attests to the fact that they probably really were. I felt clever and enjoyed hanging out in school while the rest of my fellow school mates left the grounds for the gruesome runs.
It wasn’t until I developed a passion for fitness and learned the benefits of cardio years later that I realized what a disservice I had done myself back then. I came to the realization that the real reason I avoided running was because I really didn’t think I could.
I always admired “runners” as they zoomed by in their fashionable running gear and with earphones tucked in their ears. They seemed so confident, engaged in and dedicated to the activity. I imagined they possessed some kind of supernatural power that I obviously lacked and secretly wished I had.
My cardio workouts consisted mainly of walking on the treadmill on an incline. On the days I felt adventurous and in need of a challenge, I included short bursts of sprints in my walks but never often or for long enough to get out of the “fear of running” zone. I wasn’t ready to go there.
Last May, my Employer, in an effort to promote health and wellness decided to sponsor Staff interested in participating in the Annual Race for Hope 5K run. I jumped at the opportunity despite it being completely out of my comfort zone and surprised myself & my co-workers with this decision.
Did I really know what I was signing myself up for? Could I commit to training for the race? Could I really do this? These questions weighed heavily on my mind. I decided this was an opportunity to not only challenge myself but get over my fear of running once and for all. I had to prove to myself that I could do this, that I could run; that nothing is impossible.
I only had 7 weeks to train for the race. I would be lying if I said that I looked forward to training or that I did it as often as I should have despite the fact that I was committed to running the entire race and completing it. On the days that I did train, I ran with all my heart and like my life depended on it.
I found myself getting really excited as the race date neared and looking forward to crossing the finish line. I had ran the race in my head so many times during my daydreams and creased my race bib from all the folding and unfolding I did as I examined the tangible proof that I was indeed a race participant.
D-Day finally arrived and with it butterflies in my tummy; I couldn’t eat a thing and was anxious to get the whole thing over and done with. I regretted having not trained enough and wondered how that would affect my endurance and run time; all I knew was that I didn’t want to come in last.
I burst into tears when I arrived at the race site and was so overcome with emotion. I was extremely proud of myself for coming this far, for finally grabbing the bull by its horns and not allowing my fear of running to continue having power over me. I knew conquering this would give me the confidence to face more of my fears head on and eventually squash them all.
I finished the race in 32 minutes, a good time considering that I was a first-timer and hadn’t trained much in preparation. I remember not feeling winded at all and wondering how that was even possible. I guess I was just operating on some major adrenaline or too overjoyed to feel anything but pride.
Now that I had proved to myself that I could run, I determined to stop underestimating myself and take it to the next level ; I signed up for a local 10K race immediately I got home after the race. The 10K was set to take place in exactly a month’s time thus leaving me with very little time to train.
Completing the 10K race was challenging. I remember wondering just exactly what I was trying to prove to myself when I got to the 5 mile mark. I wanted so badly to quit, I was tired and my legs felt heavy for real. I knew that I had to silence that voice of doubt; I wouldn’t quit, I wouldn’t stop running.
When I received a medal at the finish line, I looked at it and realized that I already received my just reward, I had proved to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to, that I am capable of much more than I imagine; that I had no solid grounds for underestimating my abilities and self in the past.
Since then, I have signed on to run another 5K and 10K race, both scheduled for this Spring and Summer respectively and have gone on to pursue interests I had shelved in the past because I didn’t think I had what it took to flourish in them, such as writing and starting a blog.
I realize that we are our own worst enemies and usually the person standing in the way of our own dreams. We have an easier time identifying other people’s strengths and potential but our own and allow fear to rob us of many opportunities because we are afraid to face them.
We really do have the ability to do anything we put our minds to and are smarter, stronger and more capable than we can even begin to conceive.
What have you been putting off because of your fears and insecurities? What challenge do you need to take on? What would you do if only you would stop underestimating yourself?