The First Step to Achieving is Believing

Today I had lunch with coworkers and they were asking me questions about the Ironman.  In line with what typically happens when I tell people I intend to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 and then run a marathon, one of them said, “I could never do something like that.” And, as usual, I tell them that they could. I truly believe that anyone can run a half marathon, do a triathlon or even complete an Ironman. But they have to want to do it. And not everyone does (which is totally fine!), but I wish they’d stop believing they can’t do it.

I have a friend who tells me the reason she can’t run is that her hip hurts when she runs. I asked her if she has ever gotten fitted for running shoes. No, she says, she just wasn’t born to run. Her body isn’t holding her back from running – her mind is (I mean hello haven’t you heard of the book Born to Run? ;).  She has a mental block that is telling her that running isn’t possible. I think that a lot of people believe that endurance athletes are different in some physical way that allows them to compete. I often hear people respond when I tell them I have a marathon coming up, “I can’t even run one mile without stopping.” I usually tell them that neither could I when I started training, but I started with one very slow mile and worked my way to two and soon enough I was running ten. They hear what I’m saying but still don’t believe they can do it.

I used to be one of those people who didn’t believe I could do it. I was always an active child but I was never particularly good at any sport. I had this belief that people were either naturally good or bad at a sport and I was bad at most of them off the bat so I figured I had no potential. I didn’t really realize that if you worked hard and practiced a lot, you could actually improve dramatically. The longest I stuck to any sport was 3 years, but on average I’d play a sport for 2 years. I participated in dance, gymnastics, ice skating, basketball, track and field, swimming and finally field hockey. I was best at swimming but I loved field hockey most (and was pretty good for a beginner).  Luckily, I was fairly good at swimming without a lot of effort and that is why I excelled at it. If I did something and didn’t do well immediately, I wasn’t interested. And for me, running was one of those things.

I’ve mentioned this in my blog before, but I genuinely appalled running for the majority of my life and avoided it at all costs. However, I gained the lovely “Freshman 15” and discovered the summer after my freshman year that running helped me lose the weight the fastest (despite the elliptical machine lying to me and telling me I burned 1,000 calories per hour on it). So I ran. I got to the point where it wasn’t so bad. I could even run three miles without stopping. I didn’t have a desire to run any farther than that until I began searching for an outlet for some internal pain. I signed up for my first half marathon when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. 2008 was a rough year for me. I was miserable at my job, I was miserable in my former relationship, I was taking out my pain on my friends and I was drinking way more than I should have. I was searching for any outlet for my pain, any way to escape and do something different. So I signed up for a half marathon. And then I dumped my boyfriend. And then I quit my job. I made amends with the friends I hurt and I made many new ones. I ended 2008 still with a heavy heart but also with a new sense of hope. I trained for that half marathon not knowing if I could finish it. I still wasn’t sure if I had what it took to cover 13.1 miles but at least I was trying. I didn’t enjoy most of my training since I trained alone and mostly on the treadmill, but I had some very special moments during my long runs where I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. I remember the first time I ran 4 miles without stopping. I couldn’t even believe that I had achieved it. Soon enough I was running 9 or 10 miles. It was an indescribable sense of accomplishment for me to cross the finish line of my first half marathon in January of 2009 without having walked one step. I had accomplished something that my insecure 13-year-old self would have never imagined I would. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it.

I’m not over exaggerating when I say that finishing that half marathon marked a turning point in my life. It probably had a lot to do with getting rid of the boyfriend and job, but it also had a lot to do with the self-confidence I achieved by completing something that I had formerly believed I wasn’t made to do it. The years following that half marathon have been the best years of my life. As I explore more ways to push my body past its limits and achieve goals I set for myself,  I have become more self-confident, patient, disciplined, and most importantly, happy.

The difference between me and my coworkers or friends that say they can’t run a race or do a triathlon isn’t that I’m any more capable, genetically gifted, hard-working or athletic than them. It’s that I believe I can do it. I know that if I set the goal to cover 140.6 miles in 1 day that I can do it. I also know that the difference between me and a lot of other people is that I want to do it, because it’s not everyone’s life dream to test their physical limits and endure up to 17 hours of pain just to say they are an Ironman. That’s my dream, not everyone’s and I’m not saying it should be. But what I don’t like is to hear from people who are sedentary, that don’t do any cardiovascular activity at all to keep their heart healthy or add years to their life that they can’t do something. If you’ve ever watched a challenged athlete missing both legs compete in a triathlon or cross the finish line of a 5k or watched a 350 pound Biggest Loser contestant finish the season by running a marathon, you know this isn’t the case. I hate to sound cliché, but you can do anything you set your mind to – you just have to be smart about it and know your body and your limits. You can’t go from couch potato to Ironman in three months but you can certainly make progress toward it in that time.

So if you’re thinking about doing something, do it! Believe me, it’ll be worth every moment of sacrifice and temporary pain when you achieve your goal.

“Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.” Les Brown


7 thoughts on “The First Step to Achieving is Believing

  1. Chuck Swanson

    Great post an so true! This is a great inspirational post. I hope you continue to improve and inspire. Keep up the great work and Good Luck!!

  2. Page

    I love this post and that you found so much in your life by being active. You’d be surprised how many people give me that “look” when I tell them I’m doing an IM and I’ve never really done a triathlon. Whatever. Belief in ourselves is what will get us through each and every day.

  3. Beth

    I LOVE this post! It drives me crazy when people say, “I can’t.” You don’t want to, fine. But if you were dedicated and put in the work, you could do just about anything.

    I totally understand your progression, too. No joke, that is exactly what I did/how I felt in 2007/2008. The day I ran my first ten miler I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and completely changed my life. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t made the simple change of starting to run. Most likely, it would be sad and unhealthy.

  4. Donna

    We just started running – my 13 yr daughter and I did our first 5 mile Turkey trot, a 5K Jingle Bell, and this Saturday – we’re running in the 5K Color Run! I don’t know why we put running off for so long! I still can’t run a complete mile without stopping to breathe – but we’re moving and proud of that! I started P90X in Nov, injured my knee in Dec…starting back this week! I’m short and overweight – and I hate to sweat! LOL! I’m looking forward to my first half marathon! I enjoy your blog!

    1. FitnessFatale Post author

      Awesome! I’m glad that you’ve picked up running! It is so awesome to hear that your 13 year old is also running with you! I wish I had had someone to inspire me to run at that age! Keep it up!

  5. Farah

    Hello there,
    I found this wonderful blog of yours through a before/after picture posted on a health blog on Tumblr. This post was very inspirational! I’ve never met anyone that has set to accomplish everything that you’ve done–let alone what you are planing to do. It truly struck a chord too, since I’ve been recently diagnosed with a chronic disease, and to be honest, working out has been challenging ever since.

    I was stubborn and fearful of adapting my workouts to my new condition, so I ultimately gave up, hurt and miserable. But frankly, I wasn’t being “smart” about my goals, as you nicely put it. I guess that finding the right approach/strategy is key, and I shouldn’t give up, just because the game became a bit more complicated. Thank you! Your words truly inspired me, and brought forth a few tears.
    Keep working hard and believing!

    xox- Farah

    1. FitnessFatale Post author

      Hi Farah!

      I am so glad you found my blog and that it has been an inspiration to you. It makes me so happy to hear that this blog post helped you! Thank you for your kind words and I hope to hear from you again soon! :) I would love to hear how you are doing as you get back into your fitness routine. Stay positive and keep going!



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