VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
If you read my last post, then you would know that in nine weeks from this Sunday I will be competing in the Ironman 70.3 Superfrog. Preparing for this competition has required me train my physical and mental endurance. Of the two, mental toughness had been a weakness of mine in the past.
I remember the first time I ran a mile and a half for time. I was at the track with “natural runners”; who were tracking times at nine minutes effortlessly. My all-out sprint was three minutes slower than their effortless times.
The problem wasn’t that I was slow. The problem was that instead of acknowledging the work I would need to put in to keep up, I labeled them. By labeling them as natural runners, I created an excuse for why they were better and deflected self-reflection.
This habit of labeling people was in every area of my life. In school my classmates were labeled as “inclined toward math”, at work my coworkers were labeled as “growing up with better circumstances”, or any label that placed my life conditions below someone else’s. It allowed me to put minimal work in without feeling like a loser.
I was tired of being a loser. That wasn't the life I wanted for myself. I wanted real, quantifiable progression, not low standards. Over the last year I have been using different opportunities to adopt better habits; joining the Air Force being one of them and now this race.
When I first started training, my mile pace was nine minutes per mile. Initially, I was so embarrassed by my pace that it discouraged me from running every day. It was easier to avoid running than to admit I sucked at it and needed a lot of work. One steady motivation to push past my excuses was the accountability my mom provided.
My mom constantly reminded me to run the miles, even if they were slow. She called me weekly to ask how I was preparing for the long-runs each weekend. I promise you, I made more excuses those initial weeks than I ever had in the past but I still did the miles.
The more I ran, the more I realize how invalid the excuses I was making were. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a natural runner. I can now run a pace faster than my initial mile and a half for 10 miles.
All excuses are invalid, I believe in hard work.
Editor’s note: This is an on-going 10 week series. You can visit www.vandenberg.af.mil and the 30th Space Wing Facebook page every Friday for a new feature.