It’s 11:59pm on December 31st of 2019 and I’m standing at the start line of my 10th race of the year. At the end of 2017, I couldn’t run more than half a mile and today I can run the distance of a half marathon. In 2020 I’ll be running the New York City Marathon. The countdown starts and the race begins at midnight while a DJ spins hip house music and fireworks explode in Central Park.
What’s the thing you enjoy doing that has the power to make you feel as if no time has passed at all? It could be a hobby or a practice. Whatever it is, you know it because you feel totally in flow when you’re doing it. Life just feels…right. For me, one of those things is running. When I run, the world just seems to fall away as I either get lost inside my head or the beauty around me. It’s so powerful for me that while just halfway through a long run, I’ll light up at the idea of getting to do it again tomorrow.
In my early 20’s a long run for me was 3 miles, but back in 2017 I could barely run 1 without becoming winded. I was that girl who’d scowl at fit women that would run by me with their enviable runner’s glow, secretly hoping they’d trip over a rock (to learn more about envy check out this article). Misery loves…well, misery. I’d keep my workout clothes in a hidden drawer I didn’t open often, for fear they might have disintegrated.
One day in 2017, I was sitting with a friend who also happened to be my roommate at the time. She’s a serious runner. I remember marveling at how amazing it was she’d get up and run 7 miles in the morning while I was still hitting the snooze button. When she told me the secret to building up my endurance, I sat in disbelief. She suggested I start by running just one mile. And after a week, up it to two and then three the next, and so on. I knew this was impossible, I was just not the kind of person who could do that despite how much I loved the idea of being a runner.
What was actually happening was I just didn’t identify myself a girl who runs long distance. I had a deep belief that I couldn’t do it. It was hard to see this belief was simply a made-up belief that was both untrue and keeping me from something I desired. So, I buried her advice…until over a year later.
November of 2018 was when I finished the first half, and by far the most life-changing portion of my coaching certification program. What I initially believed was a year-long training on how to be a life coach had turned out to be the year that cracked me wide open. It was incredibly difficult. After finishing our last in-person course just before Thanksgiving, something had seriously changed within me. I had transformed into someone who had belief and certainty in her worth and abilities. I loved myself more than I ever had.
A few days after my final coaching course, my personal change drove me to decide that I would become a runner…a real runner. Someone who could run 8 miles and not bat an eye. And thanks to my friend’s advice, I already knew where to start.
By March of 2019 I was running double the miles than I ever had in a given month and approaching my first half marathon.
I had completely changed my view of myself that I’d held for more than 10 years in less than 6 months. In under half a year, I’d become the kind of person who ran long distance! With running came not only the sense of accomplishment, but a deep development of self-trust. And this poured into other areas of my life, from upholding commitments to learning how to say “no” when something wasn’t right for me.
An unexpected gift was that running also became part of my spiritual practice…I felt closer to God (the universe, whatever you call it). To this day, on a run I am sometimes so filled with gratitude for life that tears well up in my eyes.
As I raced towards the finish line of one of my fastest 4-mile runs just after midnight on New Year’s Day, I smiled at what I’d achieved.
Behind that smile was an understanding that change happens in our decisions moment to moment, but outcomes require patience and persistence.
What activity, practice or hobby are you not trying that lights up your heart? And what belief is stopping you? What would change about how you see yourself if you released this belief.
Action is a key in changing our beliefs.
And taking small steps over time will get you much further than standing immobilized in your fear of taking a big leap. If it’s painting, don’t promise yourself to paint a mural next weekend. Today, take out your paintbrushes and lay them somewhere you can see them.
Every time you take an action, you are proving to yourself that you can follow through on what you truly care about. Little by little, you’ll develop an irreplaceable sense of knowing that you’re the kind of person who can make anything you want to happen in your life.