Learning From Running

Ever since leaving Korea earlier than planned, I’ve been having a lot of confidence issues. It’s a powerful thing to admit to yourself that you’ve reached your limit – and definitely is an important lesson to learn.

But at the same time admitting to yourself you can’t do something you were sure you could manage can be hard. It’s made me question a lot of things.

I’m the kind of person who insists on powering through the task at hand no matter how impossible it seems (many a last minute essay was accomplished with this motivation). So when I left Korea, I felt like I’d quit a lot more than my job. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to do this life of travel. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough to take such big risks again. Maybe I’d learned my limit and in doing so discovered at last that invisible line which, much like an electric fence, I couldn’t try crossing without doing some damage to myself.

I’ve been doing things to try and reignite that furnace of confidence at my centre, shoveling small accomplishment after small accomplishment into the coals. It’s felt pretty thankless on a large scale, but each shovel full felt good in its own way. Getting my art business off the ground. Blogging regularly. Taking care of my nutrition and fitness.

Fitness always feels good with motivational Sailor V socks (or Harry Potter, both from Andrea).

Today I was talking to a good friend of mine who has boundless optimism in the face of even the worst case scenarios. She also happens to have completed the Couch 2 5K program that I’m on as well as the one after. We were talking about running today, as I’ve recently leveled up to Week 4 and found the jump between 1.5-3 minute jogs to 3-5 minute jogs a tough one. 

Her response was that it’s a mental block, that the body can run for a lot longer than you think it can.

And she’s right. Right after I finished my workout, I was surprised that I’d been able to do it. I was hot, sweaty, pooped – but it had been doable. My brain said no, but my body has been training and has become strong. I didn’t give it enough credit for the things it could do.

The same goes for the other areas of my life I’ve been afraid were beyond my abilities. Travel, teaching, the big risks of moving abroad again. For the first time in almost two years, I’ve felt that furnace of confidence start to burn again. These little things I’ve been doing, the small accomplishments like my incremental running, have been training me to get back on track.

My brain may still be telling me no, but I’m starting to believe it less.

I’m in the middle of training for an online teaching job that’s been making me very nervous (first time teaching again since Korea, scary!), but if this comes through it’ll be because I’ve learned from running that nothing is impossible if you go at it slow enough. Everything is hard in the beginning until you build up the right muscles. And if I can make this work, I can make teaching abroad work again.

Here’s to a brighter future – and getting there one step at a time!

One thought on “Learning From Running

  1. Training. Adding small bits more with regular repetition.
    It’s how singers train their vocal chords to do more than the multitude ever can. It’s how dancers achieve performances that people pay to watch. It’s how marathoners go the distance.
    Great athletes, artists, musicians, writers, etc do not produce Olympian results quickly. It takes time. Patience. Piling on tasks as the body adapts to the demands, until the tasks become routine and come automatically in order to give focus to the next challenge. The mind will always be overwhelmed and say it can’t be done. But the body can ignore the mind and sidestep it by simply doing despite the negativity. The body will signal when it needs to stop because of injury or dehydration…but otherwise it is a steady motor if kept in shape.
    We are a trilogy of mind, spirit and body. The trick is to unify the three to feel our absolute power, to be our best. Each offer their own strengths and weaknesses. Winning attitudes come with keeping on despite setbacks…to keep on trying and always give your best. You’ve got that.


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