This beautiful morning— bright sunshine pouring in through my front windows and clear blue skies overhead— called me outside to go for a long run.  The temperature wasn’t too bad; I could wear less top layers, and didn’t need my fleece hat or scarf.  I figured I had time for at least nine miles before I had to buckle down and get some work done.   As I loaded up on coffee, kefir, and a banana before I hit the pavement, I thought back to when I first began to run, and what might be different between then and now.  I stopped for a minute to take stock of what is going on in my running life, and how it reflects in the rest of what I do and who I am.  I let myself acknowledge that I have blasted through a strong barrier around distance.  I had been making a lot of excuses for that barrier until just recently.  I knew what it was, and shook my head at myself for not embracing it earlier.

I was full of fear.  Fear of not being able to make it back home.  Fear of running out of strength, of getting hurt, of having to pee!  But most of all, I was filled with the fear of getting what I wanted.  I lacked trust in my body and my mind to let  distance and success happen.  I used to run a three and a half mile loop that doubled back past my house, just in case I needed to stop.  I eased my way up to four miles, then five, using Google maps to figure out how far out I could go and still be within bolting distance of my front porch.  Just in case.  I remember the first time I tried going deeper into distance.  I planned carefully, carrying a water bottle, double-knotting my shoelaces, making sure I had my cell phone.  I ran down Eden Road.  When I reached the end, I was exhausted— not from running, but from the stress of taking myself out of my comfort zone.  I didn’t even finish the loop!  I turned right around and ran back along Eden Road, skipped Marmion Way altogether, and turned up on my own doorstep well before my planned time.  I remember that my husband was waiting for me.  He asked if everything was all right.  I told him yes, but that it was so far!  I had to turn around.

I continued to run, finally finding and managing a five  mile loop that did not figure-eight by my house.

I wanted more.

The next time I made a goal for a long run, I asked my running buddy Sue to go with me.  She planned an eight mile loop and drove us a distance away from our houses .  I can still conjure up the euphoria I felt at having actually made it.  I wrote about it in one of my first blogs.  I was not fast.  It was only eight miles.  I had company.  (An important one of my fitness rules— it works.)   I did it.  I ran through the fear.  And after running the eight with Sue, I knew I could do it on my own.  I was no longer afraid.  The unknown was not a beast after all.  It was only me.

Last week when I ran 12.3 miles, I did it with joy.  I did it without fear.  Somewhere in my running journey I have had a breakthrough to having what I want.  I trust myself.  I trust that my body can absolutely do what I ask of it, and that my mind will allow it to happen.  Letting go of that fear has made me fearless in other places in my life.  A couple of  little examples:  I’ve been telling the people in my life how much they mean to me without worrying too much if they think I am goofy.  I have been reaching out more to people in my neighborhood and people I meet on my runs.  I have even been making long-overdue phone calls.  I’m learning that it’s only me after all, and it’s okay to be who I am.   I’m doing the best I can.  I embraced the fear, had company to run through it, and let it go.

Fitness rule for today:  Embrace your barriers, then break through them.  Do whatever it takes, because you deserve to have your dreams and meet your goals.

Today:  9.6 miles.  1 hr, 22 minutes.

Explore posts in the same categories: Fitness Rules, Run notes that run into life, Tips

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2 Comments on “Breakthrough”

  1. Craig Says:

    Why did Sue drive you to a distance from your houses? Was it to remove your “fail-safe”? So you would not have an easy have to fall back on?

  2. Charlene Says:

    My kicking instructor likes to yell “What do we do when we hit the wall?” To which we yell back “punch through it!”

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