Growing up my mom was always telling me how smart I was. I think she saw my potential and wanted me to be confident. I remember thinking that a sure sign of a truly brilliant mind would be that things would always be easy, school work wouldn’t require studying and the good grades would just come to me. My mother neglected to tell me that even intelligence requires hard work, in fact being able to work hard-identifying challenges and obstacles, and then being able to overcome them was what an intelligent mind does. It has taken me several decades to finally realize that potential and intelligence, just like any seed, requires cultivation and intentional effort.
I have been thinking a lot about this concept in all aspects of my life lately. I have been trying to sculpt a new reality out of the clay of my life. I feel like everything relates back to running, for me, and it might sound a little redundant to once again bring up the merits and virtues of running but when I began running I hoped it would be a power for change for good in my life and it has.
Training with my friend, Amity, has sped up my progress and so I am running into obstacles a lot faster than before-I like to think of these as springboards, or “learning opportunities”. One of these springboards has been an IT band issue-oh yes, the runner’s bane. I have learned the importance of rest, that growth requires slow and steady rather than light speed, and that I need to develop other areas of strength-stretching, yoga, weights to compliment my running. Amity and I will not be able to train together for 3 weeks and so now I face a new challenge, heading out on my own-will I continue strong and steady on my own or is my resolve dependent on the support of others? Another significant issue for me has been related to my body image “sensitivity”-becoming a runner has meant building muscle mass in areas I felt I wanted to shrink-in short you don’t get a “barbie doll” figure running. Getting bigger leg muscles bothered me a little at first, but then I realized what it meant-I was getting stronger and more fit. I further realized that I didn’t care if my legs were getting bigger because I love to run and am not going to stop just to keep my legs from getting a little bigger! This was a fantastic revelation to me-I love feeling healthy and strong more than I am attached to my deeply rooted body image mis-conceptions. Maybe there is hope for me-I am overcoming my self-image sickness! All of these seemingly difficult “problems” have proven to be answers to other problems I have. The IT band has helped me be more patient, persistent and determined. Having to go out on my own is teaching me self-accountability and intentional planning. My body changing has forced me to face my demons and re-enforced the idea that I am in this for the well-being aspect of running and I am loving that feeling.
Recognizing these “obstacles” as spring boards and stepping stones has taken effort, though. Intentional effort has been required at every step and will be required of me in everything I will do. I started running to affect a change in my life, and though it hasn’t come easily and quickly, it has come. The neat thing about life is that we get to decided what we want to accomplish, who we want to be- and we have the power, ability and intelligence to do it-we just have to put in the thought and work. I hope the message resounds in you, reader. If there is a seemingly impossible dream you’ve been hiding away, pull it out, dust it off and get to work-and I hope that when you run into that first “obstacle” you will remember that it is just a springboard waiting to launch you to the next level.