Five Miles of Empowerment

April 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

One hour later...

For years and years, I made excuses: I’m not athletic. I’ll get sweaty. I’ll hurt myself. If being non-athletic were a sport, I’d be World Champion. But since this has been the year of Audacious Goals and Getting Outside My Comfort Zone, I participated in my first organized running event. It was five miles, up hill (both ways, I swear) through beautiful Valley Forge National Park.

Over the last six months, I discovered that training was more about harnessing my brain than the physical act of running. Combined with what I have learned around the Empowerment Center from Lisa, Maria, and Cindy, I am ready to tackle my next audacious goal.

Don’t Over Plan, Just Get Started – In the past I would have waited until I knew what I was doing and had the right clothes and shoes – the ultimate in procrastinating to avoid failure. At last year’s Women’s Empowerment Conference, keynote speaker and Montana native, Col. Karen Gibson, noted that the people who died in snowstorms were the ones who stopped moving. My takeaway was that all goals and dreams will die if you don’t continue to move forward.

Consequences & Accountability – I registered and paid for my race in December. Knowing I had paid good money for the event was enough to drag me out even when I wasn’t motivated. The event was coming whether I was ready or not.

Set a Goal and Track Your Progress – My goal was fairly modest: Finish the five miles and run the whole way. I logged my mileage on a training website and watched the days fill in with colorful slots documenting my progress. Like the foil star chart when you were a kid, the grid filled with my miles and kept me going.

Strategic Disengagement – I am excellent at over-thinking situations and continuing to re-hash them over and over beyond the point where it’s useful. I found that when I was running, if I thought about running, I couldn’t do it. I had to practice strategically disengaging my brain from the process of running. I discovered it was a great time to think about non-running stuff and it boosted my creativity. It also was an opportunity to practice banishing negative thoughts – if I caught myself thinking about how far I still had to go, I would immediately redirect my thoughts elsewhere.

Have a Cheering Section – I was constantly reinforced and motivated by my family and friends who inspired and supported me. Mentally hearing them cheer for me got me through some tough days when I didn’t want to practice. They were also instrumental in helping me break down my goal into manageable pieces.

Stop Worrying about What Others Think – Approaching my first race, I was nervous. What if the “real” runners make fun of me? What if people think my outfit is stupid? What if I am the last one across the finish line? Okay, so none of that happened. I saw a pregnant woman, a really old man, and my husband reported that an 8 year old boy had come in before me. I realized that all of the other 1046 registered participants were there for their own personal contests just like me.

So what’s your story this year? What Audacious Goal have you tackled? How do you get Outside Your Comfort Zone?  What did you learn in the process?

Posted by:  Heather Comstock

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