Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why, oh, why do I punish myself so?

So, I'm trudging along on today's run (week six day one of c25k - yay!), and I begin to wonder why, exactly, I'm so focused on pushing myself to becoming a runner. I mean, really, I spent so much energy in my youth convincing people that I was physically unable of running (knees without enough cartilage, you see). I spent over thirty years perfectly satisfied with being a non-runner (at any weight), and here I am, for the second time, pushing myself to become a runner. Why?

I mean, I could lose weight cycling much more easily. Hiking feels great. Weight training is certainly effective and (except for the particular routine I'm currently on) I've not had a problem with it. Those three activities, really, would be enough to achieve a healthy and happy physical state.

So what's with the running?

I have decided that it's the same reason those weight loss shows on television seem to torture contestants: When you prove to yourself that just one previously-impossible feat is actually possible, every challenge becomes achievable.

Yes, I know, you can do anything you set your mind to. We've heard it over and over again, and no one disputes it. And yet, there's this little nagging voice in the back of our minds that always wonders if it is really true. I mean, I can set my mind to learning to fly, and all I'll achieve is a nice stay at the local mental institution. Clearly, the little voice says, we can't do anything just because we decide to.

We can argue with the little voice all we want, explaining that realistic goals are where it's at, but the voice just won't shut up. Until we stomp the voice into the ground by achieving something it's convinced is outside that realm of realistic goals. Until we run a 5k. Or a 10k. Or swim a mile. Or maybe, just maybe, complete a tri.

There is something so absolutely empowering about setting a goal that feels near-impossible and achieving it. I know. I've been there. And I will be there again. And this time, I'll keep going. That little voice is going to learn its lesson once and for all.

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