Before I started running, I defined myself by what I thought I could and couldn’t do:
Become a runner?
Run three miles without needing an ambulance?
Run a half marathon?
Run a marathon?
Feel confident enough to run in my sports bra?
I like to say that I was just desperate enough to become a runner because that first initial year felt impossible. But despite the difficulties, doubts, and defeats, running taught me that the only way you can fail is if you fail to try.
This year, redefine impossible. Throw “can” and “can’t” out the window in pursuit of our strongest, happiest, and most confident self. Feeling apprehensive about an intimidating goal time or distance? Here are three reasons why you should toe the line in 2017.
1. STAND UP TO FEAR AND DOUBT
There comes a point in your life when you realize that fear and doubt aren’t serving you. That the “what ifs”, “I could nevers”, and the “I’m not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, capable enough, qualified enough or ready” are nothing more than a fear of failure. Accepting our own worth and leaning into fear and doubt isn’t easy. But one of the best ways to run them down is to toe the line. No goal time or finish line is impossible when you work towards it one step at a time. You have to believe in yourself. It won’t be easy but I guarantee that it will be worth it.
2. PROVE TO YOURSELF THAT YOU'RE STONGER THAN YOU THINK
Health is a lot more than what you see what you look in the mirror. Set your preconceived ideas about what “fit” looks like aside and set your sights on a goal that forces you to push yourself to places you never thought possible. It doesn’t matter whether you think you can, all that matters is that you try.
The magic of running isn’t in the finish line, it’s in the journey. It’s the first time you finish a hard workout knowing you kept fighting when the voice in your head tells you that you can’t do it. It’s the first time you run a distance you told yourself you couldn’t complete. Toeing the line isn’t easy. There will be setbacks and speed bumps. You’ll be forced to dig deep and find motivation within yourself every single step of the way. But knowing how hard you’re working and realizing your own strength is both liberating and addictive.
3. YOU'RE NOT ALONE
I’ll never forget the first time I toed the line. I was still a very new runner and getting ready to run a distance I was wildly underprepared for. I made every single mistake a runner could possibly make the week of my race and around mile 11, I wanted to quit. The doubts were impossible to ignore and my legs felt like lead. With two miles to go, I was ready to accept that I just couldn’t do it.
Right as I was getting ready to quit, a woman in a Team In Training charity shirt ran up beside me. She told me that she was struggling and asked if we could run together. A flood of relief washed over me as I tried to explain to her that I didn’t think I was going to make it.
We shared stories from our training and all the doubts we fought along the way. We focused on getting to light posts and celebrated every single quarter mile from mile 11 to mile 13. I learned that she too was running her first half marathon. But while I was running for myself, she was running for her best friend who lost her life to cancer. It was the first time I realized that running was bigger than just finishing a race.
I don’t think I could have finished without her.
Regardless of whether you’re toeing the line of your first 5K or your first ultra-marathon, know that you’re never alone. For every doubt or fear you encounter, remember that we’re all fighting them too. When you’re out on the roads, in the gym, or toeing the line, look around and remember that we really are stronger together.
Impossible isn’t a word we should ever use to describe what we’re capable of. Make 2017 the year that you say yes to fear and yes to yourself by toeing the line in 2017. Remember, the only way you’ll fail is if you fail to try.
Head up, wings out.
- Kelly Roberts