Starting Where You Are

It takes work. Everything in life happens a step at a time, a second at a time.

It’s easy to forget this. I hear a lot of people immediately write off a big goal because the result doesn’t look like where they are currently. Just yesterday in conversation, when I mentioned my Ironman training, a friend responded by laughing and saying, “I can’t even bring myself to go outside in the winter, let alone run.” I’m sure they say this in a way that they mean to be positive. But it isn’t. It is very much a backhanded compliment, and one that demeans them even more.

Now I’m not saying that everyone should be training for an Ironman. This is my goal. But I continue to be amazed at the responses that I get from people. People close to me, even.

  • Aren’t you tired?
  • You’re already training? Isn’t that almost a year away?
  • Well, you’re thin so it must be easy for you.
  • No wonder you watch what you eat. I could never do something like that.

And the thing is, we can ALL do “something like that.”

I am in no way the perfect athlete. While I have been in the sports world in some sense for my entire life, endurance sports are new to me. I love sprinting. Go all out for a short time, then be done (Actually, this has always been my mindset, not even just for sports. But that’s a separate conversation). But to consider sustained effort for an extended period of time? This seemed crazy to me. Good thing I love a challenge.

I think life is about challenges, though. Like I said, this doesn’t have to be your challenge. You may have dreams of going to culinary school and becoming a chef. You may want to start your own business. You may struggle with debt and desperately want to pay off your loans. You may [fill in the blank with your challenge or goal].

Basketball was my first love. I played for 15 years, including all four years of college. My last game during my senior year of college ended with my ACL completely blowing out. I needed surgery. Up to that point, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life: strong, able to run a 6 minute mile, and my body was used to consistently performing at its best. 6 months of rehab took me down a notch. or two. I had to relearn how to balance, how to walk, how to trust legs that I never questioned so much before. 9 months after surgery, I decided to put myself to the test. I signed up for a 15k with my dad. 9.3 miles. I wasn’t anywhere close to “ready” when that morning came. I finished. And I could not walk after because of the pain I was in.

What was my next step? Rest. And then keep running. I committed to running 3x a week consistently, and got my legs back. Patience was key!

Fast forward a few years to 2018, and I started training for a half Ironman. I felt comfortable running by then, and I wanted a step toward my lifelong goal of becoming an Ironman. I got in the pool, and could not finish one length of the pool. One length is only 25 meters! I was gasping for air.

What was my next step? Keep getting in that **** pool. I created a routine of swimming. I wove it into my week. At least twice a week, I would swim. It was a huge accomplishment when I could swim 100m without stopping. Granted, I would breaststroke quite a bit to catch my breath, but I could do it. My next step? 100 meters without any breaststrokes.

The bike is a whole different story. I still am not truly comfortable cycling. This is a work in progress, but so is everything. So while I post my weekly workouts, I feel challenged and I always feel proud that I can even do the things I’m writing.

“When nothing seems to help,” it reads, “I go back and look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it — but all that had gone before.”

Jacob Riis

The journey matters. I think the journey matters as much, if not more, than the end. We all start where we are. Keep taking steps.

For those of you that are following my steps in this journey, here is what this week holds:

  • Tuesday :: Interval swim :: 2500m
  • Wednesday :: Interval bike :: 70min
  • Thursday :: Interval run :: 60min
  • Friday :: Aerobic swim :: 2x [300m, 500m, 2x300m]
  • Saturday :: Tempo bike :: 80k w/ 3x10k @ PE 8
  • Sunday :: Aerobic run :: 15k, hills

Get fired up! What does your journey hold? What is your step? Where are your challenges?

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