Sunday, September 22, 2013

running brokenhearted

Inspiration comes from a multitude of places, some less expected than others. There's your husband, who tells you that, despite your weeks of awful times and no endurance whatsoever, that you just have to keep pushing through. There's your runner friend who says that it's all in your head and that you should try doing multiplication problems when you start to psyche yourself out.

And then there's Ni No Kuni.

Ni No Kuni is a popular JRPG. It's a charming little story that follows the journey of a little boy, Oliver, as he saves the land from heartbrokenness. People all throughout the land lack courage, or enthusiasm, or kindness. And people all throughout the land also have a bit of excess of those virtues. So Oliver waves his magic wand, takes "heart" from one such "excessive" person, and then gives the bit of virtue to the person who's lacking.

Funnily enough, one of the virtues is confidence. And wouldn't you know that right about the time I'm really struggling with my running, ready to cry after every workout because I have no endurance, no speed, and generally feel like a failure, we come across in the game a little boy named Denny. Denny is seen jogging all throughout town, day after day, training hard. Then suddenly his friend realizes she hasn’t seen him in a while. When the group goes to find him, they find out that he’s brokenhearted. He loses his confidence, has one bad day, doesn't make the team, and then per the game's pattern, is possessed by a nightmare!

So Oliver and co. fight and destroy the nightmare, do some wand-waving, give Denny some confidence, and he's back to normal in no time.

Wouldn't it be nice if that's all it took? If someone could just say a few magic words and give you back some ambition, belief, or courage when you're feeling down or not feeling like yourself? Unfortunately that's not an option.

But it is in our power to keep pushing. It's in our power to lend grace to ourselves and to make ourselves do things that we don't feel like doing.

So after weeks of feeling depressed about my terrible running and after a couple super exhausting weeks at work, I decided that I should drive over to a nearby trail where I've never run before and knock out this 3.5 miles.

Last time I went running, I did well to just jog the 1.5 miles without stopping. It was super hard, and I was sure I would never be able to jog the whole 5k that I have coming up in just a few short weeks.

But today was different. Today I made a choice to force myself to do that thing which I was convinced I could not do: run the whole 3.5 miles without stopping to walk. I made a choice to focus on the distance and not the speed, to do some math in my head when I thought I couldn't breathe, to absolutely not let myself stop running for any reason!

And that's exactly what I did.

Life, just like working out, is going to land us in these situations that we're not confident about. Situations in which we have a choice to complain, to fail, or to persevere. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to do the very thing we are so sure we cannot do. And then we shock ourselves when we actually do it!

We shock ourselves so much that, after the run is over, we shamelessly raise our arms into the air and start half-laughing, half-crying at the thought of what we just accomplished.

Encouragement and suggestions and even love from others can take us pretty far, but we will not overcome that challenge until we give ourselves some tough love and push on long enough (sometimes for weeks) to break through the wall that's been holding us back.

In the end, all I needed was a little confidence. Oliver wasn't here to cast "Give Heart," but I pushed on.

It's not as easy as waving a magic wand, but it's so very worth it.


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