Last weekend, I ran with a friend who is struggling to hit her stride in training… both physically and mentally.
As we were nearing the finish of our run, she told me that she used to be an athlete. She played a sport in high school/college for which she easily excelled… with very little effort. She went on to say that she’s a pretty competitive person and that it really bothers her that running is not an area where she can reasonably compete.
I’ve heard these words before. Not from her… from myself. I struggled with the very same thoughts for years, knowing that not only would I never win a race, but I would almost always be at the back of the pack.
In fact, I allowed it to keep me from signing up for (and – more importantly – participating in) hundreds of races over the years. I didn’t want to be the slowest one out there, I didn’t want to appear awkward and pained as graceful ladies went flying past me… I didn’t want to lose.
But here’s the thing… I did lose. I lost every single time I let my negative thinking, my fears, and all my insecurities talk me out of doing something that I wanted to do. I lost the chance to prove something to myself… I lost the athlete that is often buried below my penchant for beer and Mexican food… I lost countless opportunities to make new friends… and I lost out on the joy of encouraging other women.
I’m not sure what flipped the switch for me after years of signing up for races, but being too frozen by fear of failure to actually get out there on race day… But about 7 years ago, I finally realized that even though I might cross that finish line red-faced and wheezing – long after the beer-truck has closed – that I AM competing and I AM winning.
The medals that are proudly displayed in our “exercise equipment storage room” at home are not tokens of my physical strength… they’re tokens of my mental strength. They remind me that I’m winning the race against all the negative thoughts swirling around in my head; telling me that I’m not an athlete… that I’m too old… that I’m too clumsy… etc, etc.
I may not win that race every time either, but I’m suiting up and putting my toes at the start line most days… and that? is winning, chickies.