Finding My Strength: My Health Journey

 

 

I never thought of myself as an athlete. Ever. In fact I thought of myself as the furthest thing from one. Whether it was society telling me I wasn’t strong enough or my own mind holding me back, when it came to sports, I laid low.

The mile was the worst. I dreaded it. Each year I tried desperately to get out of it. I distinctly remember my best friend and I negotiating with our 7th grade gym teacher.

It didn’t work. We still had to run. It was horrible. I hated it.

My body wasn’t made for running. I wasn’t an athlete. It was just something I would never be good at.

It wasn’t until I joined my high school’s cheer team my sophomore year that I began learning what my body is capable of. That summer at cheer camp, my coach had me stunt for the first time. When she told me to hold my flyer’s feet and lift her into the air, my jaw dropped so low it nearly hit the floor.

Me? Lifting a person? Into the air? No, sorry. Not possible.

But as it turned out, it was. I spent the next three years lifting, twisting, and throwing my teammates in the air. It was hard, frustrating, and I was elbowed in the face a lot. But I was doing it.

During this time, I (naturally) began lifting weights. Our coach had us lift at the same time as the varsity football players which was...interesting. It can be intimidating walking into a weight room with a ton of guys who seem to (by the male stereotype) know exactly what they were doing.

But with time, I learned exactly what I was doing.

My senior year I got a pretty bad concussion, so I had to stop stunting and couldn't cheer in college. But I kept going to the gym.

Then, for some strange reason, I began running...or run/walking. It was a simple workout that allowed me to explore the city. I liked it. Well, I liked it as much as I could like running.

Eventually I grew tired of running short distances and bored of working out with no end goal. So I decided it was time I tried running a half marathon.

Training to run long distance was invigorating. During the week I ran short distances. On the weekends I ran long distances that slowly increased. Each long run was the “longest distance I had ever run.” I ended in awe.

My 7th-grade-self would’ve never believed I could run longer than 2 miles. In fact, I don’t think my 18-year-old self would’ve believe it.

I put a boundary point on what I was capable of. I didn’t believe I was able to throw people in the air (and catch them) or run 13.1 miles without walking. But I can, and I did.

Don’t let society tell you what you can and can’t do. But, more importantly, don’t let your thoughts and your own negativity convince you that something is beyond your reach. Because it’s not. You are much stronger than you believe.

So do that thing that you’ve been thinking about. Run the marathon. Join the workout group. Do the Iron Man. Your body is capable of more than you think it is.

On August 20, I ran my first half marathon. Coming around the corner of mile 13, I stopped myself from tearing up.

I decided to save the tears for my first full marathon.