This is the last week before Gasparilla’s Amber Challenge. I decided I would reach this goal last October. I’ve been training for this event for 5 months now. On Monday, I also have one of my last exam before I graduate (B.Sc. Psychology). I decided I would get this degree 3 years ago. I’ve been thinking about what keeps me going, about willpower and self-control, about never giving up.
Numerous times I wanted to give up. But I did not. For the last two months, I woke up before sunrise and completed my workouts before most people even get up. I’ve done the 21 damn early days challenge in January. I’ve spent time reflecting on what’s really important for me. I’ve realized a couple things.
Running is what makes me feel strong, and powerful. It’s always a battle between my mind, and my body. I don’t wake up in the morning wondering if I should go outside. I just do it. Every morning, I’m so glad I did. Of course, some days I would rather stay up late, sleep in, stay at home and not do anything. Some days I don’t feel like going to school and study something I’m not even interested in either. But 95% of the time, I still do it (I know my limits).
That’s willpower for me. Doing it anyway, even when you don’t want to. In order to achieve a bigger goal. I know that every step counts, that every hour spent studying will pay out later. It is always hard before it gets easy, they say. That’s true. For me, anyway. I don’t always want to get up and go outside, but once I’m out there, I love it. I know I’m improving every day and that running keeps me sane. I’m smiling. I come home with more energy, with a more positive attitude. Maybe it’s the runner’s high, or the sunshine effect. I’m always happier when I go outside.
When I run, I often want to stop and take a break, but somehow I convince myself to keep going 5 more minutes, 2 more miles or 1 more song. Try it. When your small goal is reached, chances are you’ll keep going without even noticing. Willpower is a muscle. You have to train yourself to continue even when you want to stop. Mental strength is real. Running for 2 hours straight is 70% mental strength for me.
In November, I had a knee injury, I couldn’t run more than 15 minutes. Today, I ran 45 minutes straight without any pain. Next week, I’m going to run 41,1 km in two days. That’s crazy, and scary, but I will.
I decided not to compare myself to anyone when I’m running. To focus on improvement. You do you, they say. There’s a place for everyone in the running community. Nobody cares if you run slow or fast or what you look like. If you run, you are a runner. I try to do this at school too. I give my best and I don’t compare myself to anyone else. What’s the point anyway.
Running keeps me happy, and sane, and well. That’s why I’m never giving up. Some people turn to medication to find a balance, and that’s perfect if it works for them. Some take it to enhance their performances, I decided I won’t. Through running I’ve found role models that stand for a clean sport. I believe in equity and justice, in sports AND at school. There’s no point in ruining my health for an A+. Maybe I’m the only one thinking this way, but I like to believe I’m not. Running is what makes me more focused at school. I eat better because I run. I sleep better (and more!) because I run. I study more because I run. I found what works for me. I hope you find it too.
If you’re lacking motivation, choose a goal. A scary goal. Big enough to scare you, but realistic. Never forget it. Write it down. And believe in it. Don’t let other people convince you you can’t do it. Prove them wrong.
In the meantime, watch me go. Because I’m never giving up.