The day I ran for my life
I was given a gift yesterday. And today I’m writing about my journey. I’m writing it 100% for myself – to process my thoughts and reflect after I have some time to sit with that gift. But I’m publishing it.
Yes, I hope you read it. I hope it will help you feel like you’re not alone. I hope you’ll help me feel like I’m not alone. We’re not. This is fact.
But even if no one reads it, it has helped me. I got a gift and I hope I can take that gift and continue to give it to myself every single day, and give it to others along the way.
You’re asking, what is this gift? I’m about to tell you and I hope I can explain in a way that resonates with you, but if not, that’s ok too. This is just my story – it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been working with two coaches to improve and perform at a level most people don’t in my business and my life. It’s not an easy journey.
My coach, Deric mentioned he noticed I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough and he saw a pattern of peaks and valleys that I go through. He called me out on some pretty serious things I have always struggled with and it became a realization that now is the time I need to face them head-on.
His favorite prescription for these instances is to exert physical energy – to the point of sweat, tears, and exhaustion. (Or maybe it’s his favorite prescription for me because it’s what I need – a good coach can always lead you towards what you really need.)
And so his gift for me was to suggest I go on a run someplace that was just outside my reach – someplace I felt was a scary distance.
I’ve been training for a 5k and I really don’t like running. After a lot of hesitation, a few months ago, I decided to make it my 90 day challenge for exactly that reason. I wanted to prove to myself I can do something that I don’t like doing and that I thought I couldn’t do.
I’ve fallen behind on my training recently and although I had lots of reasons why, they were all excuses because I was still scared I’d fail.
So, Deric pushed me to get back on track and choose a scary destination and just run. I chose the Target closest to me. As any true American woman knows, a trip through Target with no kids is truly a treat. That sounded like a great reward after some hard work. Too bad I couldn’t buy anything because I’d have to carry it home. Simply browsing still works for me, though!
We looked up the distance and for some reason, I read 3.1 miles from my house (I’d find out later that wasn’t exactly right.) That’s a 5k! I was so worried about how far it felt, I didn’t even do the math. I hadn’t run that distance yet even though the end of my challenge is coming soon.
I reluctantly agreed I’d go in the morning, and would take out the SIM card on my phone so I wouldn’t be tempted to call for a ride. I hadn’t really thought about getting home – just visualized the path I have driven hundreds of times over and over in my head telling myself how far it was. I was probably walking around like a deer in headlights for the 18 hours until it was time to go.
Morning came and I set out about 45 minutes later than I said was going to. I found lots of reasons to prolong leaving…the kids needed help with editing a video for their YouTube channel, I had to write a few emails, etc. Finally, I decided I had avoided leaving long enough and was ready to take that first step out the door.
I know this run isn’t something monumental that would go in record books or anything. It was monumental for me, but for lots of my friends and family, this distance is a piece of cake.
That run isn’t the point of my story. It’s about the mental journey along the way and how the gift Deric gave me became a gift I gave myself. I already knew it was a gift I should be giving myself more regularly but didn’t know why until I was done.
One of the biggest reasons I work with coaches is to have a mirror to reflect back at me the things I am blind to and the things I already know but want to ignore.
It’s about having accountability to push myself when I really don’t want to and ironically, I learned that is actually a crutch for me – to make someone else hold me accountable instead of holding myself accountable. I’m a responsible person in the ways a majority of adults are, but it’s the things I feel defeated by – and the things I don’t want to do that make the internal accountability extremely difficult. That’s why it’s been my default to seek someone else to hold me accountable.
Like a crash test dummy being stopped dead in its tracks, I got the mirror I was looking for during a coaching call. I truly didn’t have a big enough WHY in my life (read Start With Why by Simon Sinek) and that I was riding everyone else’s motivation train instead of my own. That’s why I have had the ups and downs I have that prevented me from pushing past some of my biggest barriers.
So running to get some perspective is exactly what I did. Turns out, summer construction (or what we in Minnesota call one of two seasons – Winter, and Construction Season) took me at least a mile out of the way.
My run continued and although I’d rather not admit, I had moments of anger, regret, panic, struggling to breathe, some beautiful moments of peace and sense of accomplishment – but like I knew before I even started, I never once wanted to call someone for a ride.
As I got closer, Target finally appeared down the road. I had thought this would have been a more joyous moment, but I didn’t really feel much at that point. All I could think about was getting something to drink because I ran out of water about a half a mile back.
I paused for a photo opp, but I actually hesitated to go inside because I felt like I hadn’t worked hard enough – that I somehow cheated my way there.
I grabbed a drink at Starbucks, sat for a few minutes, then took a lap around the store – I’m always so inspired by Target’s design – clothes, accessories, bedding, kitchen, stationery, even packaging is total eye candy for me.
I headed out to start home. I didn’t even think about the distance ahead, I just kept going and let my brain do whatever it wanted.
I felt fierce when I approached the construction again. Instead of listening to the rule-following Kelly who was telling me I had to go around, I went right through it and hurdled the concrete barriers. At this point, I wasn’t even thinking about obstacles, I was just going home, by whatever means.
When I got to my block and saw my house get bigger and bigger the closer I got, I walked through the door dripping with sweat and tears, and looked in disbelief at my phone. 8.8 miles! Surely I didn’t go that far.
But I really did! And even though I found myself explaining to my coaching group while ugly crying that it wasn’t good enough because I walked a lot of it, and it took much longer than it needed to, I not only completed my goal of a 5k BEFORE my deadline, I more than doubled it! I covered 8.8 miles of ground exerting more physical effort than I ever have in that distance all without someone talking me through it.
So what were my lessons? The list is long. That’s why I decided to set aside a lot of time today to write this. I want to document my journey so I will never forget the lessons. They are the gifts I gave myself and by putting them out into the world, I’m setting my intentions and something to come back to when I need a dose of self-motivation.
MY LESSONS FROM 8.8 MILES
- I need to continually ask myself what is my why and challenge my answer. Is that my true why? Does it fuel me? Does it motivate me?
- My why doesn’t have to have some special magical grandeur. It just needs to be meaningful to me and it should encourage me to be the best version of myself.
- It shouldn’t ride on anyone else’s why. I can be inspired by others, but it’s got to be my own or I won’t be motivated by it.
- I can have multiple whys. Some can be purely selfish, some can be based on a calling to be something bigger than myself. It doesn’t matter as long as they’re truly mine and they give me purpose.
- It’s ok to have periods when you don’t know what your why is. Just be sure to go on a quest to find it during that time. Don’t let time pass by when you’re going through the motions not living your purpose.
- I have to find a way to connect with my why every single day. It’s not enough to have it written in a journal or hung on the wall. I have to feel it deep inside because otherwise I will wander away from it, lose motivation and have a really hard time getting back to it.
- My whys can change over time. They can flow with seasons of life, and grow and contract as long as they give me purpose and motivation. I have always felt like I needed the one perfect why and that’s probably the reason I haven’t held on to any tightly and haven’t been motivated enough by them.
- Motivation has to come from within. I can look for ways to be externally motivated, but ultimately, that motivation won’t be around forever. I am the only person who can make change and I can’t wait for someone to tell me to do it.
- Everyone has brokenness inside and don’t – even for a second – believe that’s not true. I’m not alone and although we’re on separate journeys, sometimes our paths cross and we share the burden.
- Challenging yourself is a gift. It’s important to give yourself that gift often.
- Who cares if others think you can’t do something? That won’t stop you from doing it. You will stop yourself, however. Don’t give them that power and thank them for motivating you, even if that motivation comes from anger towards them.
- I’m unbelievably privileged. This sank in for me as I got closer to my neighborhood and saw it through a cornfield. I’m married to a literal rocket scientist who carries more of my weight than he should. We’re saving to build our dream home (as if the home we have isn’t good enough) and I can not let those privileges make me complacent in finding my own purpose and motivation and being grateful for everything I have every day.
- I am an ordinary person. But God does amazing things with ordinary people. I can’t ever let myself think I’m more than ordinary, but instead, need to be continually grateful for the amazing things He does with me.
- Stop looking for validation elsewhere – especially social media. I posted a while back about a child that was abducted a mile away from me. I was surprised when not many people reacted to that post. I ran past that neighborhood yesterday and reminded myself that one of the reasons I’m running is so I would have the physical strength to chase after someone who was trying to abduct my children.
Yet, I made it about a post on social media and told myself that lesson wasn’t important because no one reacted. Yes, I’m posting my running story on social media, and it’s great if people read it, but I’m going to turn off comments when I post so I’m not looking for validation from it. I’m just going to accept the gift from myself and be grateful for the lessons.
Same with being hard on myself. I feel like things aren’t good enough unless someone else tells me they’re great – not wanting to take credit for 8.8 miles that weren’t run 100%. That’s a way to never really be satisfied and to live in a deep hole of being unfulfilled.
OUT OF THESE LESSONS CAME MY WHYS:
- My faith. I believe God created every single human soul for a purpose. My purpose is to glorify Him in the things I do and say, and be a shining light in His name for everyone I encounter.
- My family. Marriage is God’s intention for us and my husband was chosen for me to raise our children together in love. My children are my legacy. If I don’t lead myself first, I can’t lead them. I need to seek continual improvement and overcome my challenges so that they can overcome their own. Children respond to actions, not words.
- My loved ones who have died. My dad and my two unborn children, James (stillborn) and Gabrielle (miscarriage). My dad died at age 42 – which is coming up in four years for me. God willing, I will live longer than he did. I need to make it count for him. He wouldn’t want me to wallow in his death, he would want me to shine for all the things he didn’t get to do. I can hear my son James as an adult telling me, “Mom, I didn’t get to live so you need to live for me.” I can’t let their untimely deaths hold me back, even though the pain is real and constant. They mean too much to me to let evil win.
- Causes and vocations I believe in. Leukemia, stillbirth, miscarriage, marriage, parenting. I need to be a voice – no matter how big or small.
- Depression – especially among entrepreneurs. I’ve struggled with this for 25 years. It can be one of the most isolating things a person can ever experience. But, it CAN NOT win. It’s not a reason to stop being motivated – in fact, I have to motivate myself despite it. That’s so so hard. It’s a war I have to face each and every day. That’s why we need to talk about it and let people know they truly are not alone.
My gift gave me a chance to pause and face some tough questions I haven’t wanted to face. I’m not done discovering the answers and they’ll continually challenge me.
My journey over the last 7 months has been physical and mental training so that when I do face the lowest lows, and deepest valleys, I’ll have the tools and strength to overcome them. I’m just at the beginning of this training, and it will continue for the rest of my life.
I’m not running so today I can say I ran 8.8 miles. I’m running so when I’m feeling unmotivated and depressed, I can find it within myself to clutch on to the walls of the pit I’m in and pull myself out one inch at a time.
Sometimes I’ll fall back in, but at least if I set myself up to have what it takes to get out all on my own, I’ll eventually succeed and not only make it out of the pit but will build a castle on top of it!
That’s not going to happen overnight, but I’ll know I’ve succeeded when the rolllercoaster ups and downs are further apart and cover less distance. Until then, I keep moving.