Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Challenge Yourself

     It's easier to go to the gym and hang out on the elliptical while reading the latest fashion magazine than really make yourself sweat. I'm often the kind of person to screw around for 30 minutes or so doing exercises that are technically "working out" then head on home. Hey, it burns calories, right?
    But if you're looking to get in shape or reach some fitness goal, that's not always the best method. In the past week, I think my workouts have challenged me more than the last month's workouts combined.  My week of work started with a half marathon in the moutains. Before I started, I promised myself that I wouldn't walk. By mile 11, my legs were throbbing. Running up the hills felt like the fitness equivalent of running into a cement wall. But I couldn't walk. I had promised myself. Before you start an endeavor, set a goal. Hold yourself accountable.
     However, making promises to yourself can give you a little bit of leeway. After all, if you made a promise to yourself, you just might find it in your heart to let yourself out of that promise. Try making yourself accountable to others instead. I had to do just that when I ran the last 5 miles of my dad's 100 mile race. Yes, 100 miles.
     Assuming that he'd be exhausted, I hadn't trained much. Big mistake. Getting it into his mind that he would beat his time from last year, he took off ahead of me. Running race pace at 10,000 feet was not something I had bargained for. On my own, I would have stopped, laughed it off and walked home. But my dad, exhausted from running for 28 hours, wanted to race, and I sure as hell wasn't going to hold him back. Instead, I put my head down, held onto his water and his food, and ran. Was it horrible? Yes. Did I throw up as I crossed the finish line? Yes. But my dad was counting on me and somehow, I finished that 5 miles. When someone else is counting on you to get there, you'll have an easier time finding the strength to go on.
     Whether you make a deal with yourself or with someone else, set goals. Be accountable. Don't go into a workout or a race without a plan for the end result. When you've got a finish line to cross, you'll find the power to make it there.

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