Even though I have always been not athletic and came into it late in life.
I didn’t really expect sports to give me anything. They really weren’t my thing growing up. I was always more of a theater person. I was on the Speech and Debate team, was one of the editors of our high schools news paper and was just generally one of those people that had two left feet and some broken toes in school. It was very much still the early 2000’s and there was still that campy 1980’s-90’s version of the cliques in school where you had your place and there wasn’t too much cross over.
I tried out for dance team but have no rhythm in spite of the fact that I danced point ballet in middle school. I was and still an death afraid of the idea of falling so gymnastics was out. I’m only about four foot eleven inches so basically all other sports are out…or so I thought.
My perception of myself as a ‘not athlete held me back from trying things for a long time. If I started working out, did that make me less of ot not a geek like I had always been? It took me a long time to get over these issues and it was only in my late 20’s when I started realizing how unhealthy I was getting.
But this post isn’t about being unhealthy or my journey…stumble really, towards the running community. This is about the mental gifts that were given to me once I got there. These things changed my mindset so much that I can barely tell if they are a result of growing up, that is growing up into an actual adult. Not a just out of college 20 something year old or if they are part of the sport. Either way I know that the community and sport were a huge contribute to my life.
Positivity in a learned and practiced skill.
I was always under the impression that some people were just positive rays of sun shine. My mother is one of them and, like my father, I always considered myself a pessimist. But you aren’t JUST a positive person out of the blue. Positivity is a game played with your mind; a practiced and learned skill.
You have to do it actively. You read, you meditate, you pray. You do whatever the heck you have to do. But it is not a passive personality trait that some have and others just don’t.
When that little shitter of a voice in your head tells you that you can’t, you have to push back and say that you can. Say that you have. Say that you will. It can take tons of training but it is a constant movement until it becomes a habit. Even when it is a habit, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to have a negative thought. It doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to get frustrated. It just means that you can bounce back from it.
Not All Pain Means I’m Dying; Some Pain Means You’re Growing
When I was helping some of my friends start running there was something I heard a lot. It was that it hurt. It was that they just couldn’t run because they couldn’t breathe. I said the same things myself.
We have been taught to be way too comfortable.
We think that every little pain, every shortness of breath means that we should stop. This is just not true. Pain is work sometimes and there is a long learned and hard lesson in understanding what pain is growth and what means it’s an injury. But generally, no one starts a sport and doesn’t feel any pain. Or even starts a new distance or level and doesn’t feel any pain.
Giving a Voice to Pain Gives it Power
I heard this on some podcast with a trail runner and it really stuck with me. They had a full day of running and there was only one rule: No negativity.
Of course this meant a bunch of other things under it. It meant no complaining about the heat, no cursing, no talking about your niggles or your knee or any of that. Because in the end when you talk about your pain, when you let it out of your mouth, those words become just as real as the mantras that we are constantly repeating to negate them.
I am far more capable then my mind thinks I am. But when I start talking about my pain, I am giving it the forefront of my thoughts. I’m giving it power over me.
Setting Goals for myself instead of just having goals set for me
When we think about it, growing up most of our goals are preset for us. Either by our parents or by our society in general. Exam days are set. Milestones need to be met. Even in our jobs our projects are decided by mostly other people. They just are.
Is it really a huge surprise that when it comes to setting goals for our personal achievements so many of us have no idea where to start? I did the normal thing. High school, college, job, marriage. I was about to take the next steps too. But all of those were just assumed and I found myself having not really set or thought about setting any personal goals outside of work in a long time. Sport and training helped with that. I had a goal and this is what I had to do to get there. These were the tiny steps that went into the bigger picture. Yes it sounds really simple but when you hadn’t done it in so long, it wasn’t.
I’ll admit, I’ve always been pretty good with time management but it was mostly for the essentials. Having to fit in sport, training and groups along with other peoples training schedules really made me have to understand how I was going to fit two hours of running in on a weekday.
Apparently, according to everyone, the reason why people dont work out is because they don’t have time. But I was very surprised to see just how much time I was wasting throughout the day. I would work at 6 am some days, come home and take a long (Too long) nap, than I would eat and watch t.v. and goof off. Which is fine! But I couldn’t very well bitch about not having time when I was spending so much time on Tumblr now could I?
It’s Not Insane; It’s Commitment
“You’re running 12 miles tomorrow morning? Are you crazy?”
How many times have you heard this? How many jokes come after about not being able to run a mile? How many awkward laughs followed by oh thats crazy have you heard? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitching. I used to think it was nuts too. Until I realized that it wasn’t… it was just commitment.
Its not like these people just woke up and decided. They have been working up to that, chipping away at the goal. Its not about them or the goal being crazy. Its about the commitment and effort they are putting in. Dont diminish that work by saying its crazy.