The Thing You Think You Cannot Do

There was a one-credit course I was required to take during my senior year in college — “Personal Fitness” — and as part of our final test at the end of the semester we were required to run one mile around the indoor track in the campus’ recreation center.

The humiliation of that day is seared into my memory. I remember I had completely forgotten my change of clothes, so I showed up at the gym wearing those Skechers sneakers with the platforms that were “in” at the time (and I commuted, so it wasn’t like I could go back to my dorm and change my footwear). At least I was wearing sweats, since that was pretty much all that fit me at the time.

I weighed at least 250 pounds by the time I graduated from college, quite possibly more (I wouldn’t know, because I avoided scales and mirrors at all costs). I grew winded walking across campus to the library, and did nothing but study and work, hitting the drive-thru hard between classes and munching on vending machine snacks whenever the mood would strike.

I think it goes without saying that running was a physical impossibility.

To make a long story short, not only did I come in dead last on the mile that day, but I never even finished. As I was grunting, sweating, and trying to ignore the blisters forming in my platform sneakers, some of my classmates were jogging up beside me to lend their encouragement and chant “you can do it!”

By the time everyone else had finished and I still had another two laps to go, I pretended like I was done just so I could leave the track and rush to my car and burst into tears. That mile felt like a marathon to me, and I was so ashamed that I was the only person in the class who seemed to have such trouble completing the test. I know the instructor knew I hadn’t finished, but I saw the pity in her eyes when she let me call it quits.

And that, my friends, is just one of many of my not-so-wonderful memories associated with running. It was always something that I simply could not do.

That is, until now. I don’t remember the last time I wanted something this much. And the difference now is that I can.

I am officially registered for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, and I’m also lining up a fall racing schedule that includes at least two 10Ks. I’ve never competed in any race longer than four miles, but I want to get used to running longer distances — and, more importantly, be able to submit a 10K proof of time to the folks at RunDisney to qualify to start in one of the earlier corrals on race day.

This weekend, I ran seven miles — my longest run to date. Mind you, I pretty much shuffled through the last mile, but I made a decision to complete seven miles on my “long run” day, and I actually did it. Yesterday I went out on a five mile run, as if it were the most normal thing in the world for me to do on a Tuesday afternoon. I can already feel myself getting stronger and faster.

There is something that feels damn good about doing something you never thought possible. With running, my success is even sweeter, because it literally was something I could not do. Meanwhile, I had all but given up on myself before embarking on my most recent and final weight loss journey. I never thought I would be able to beat the obesity that has plagued me since childhood, and experience life as an averaged-sized person.

I’d be lying if I said the excitement I feel when I see my byline in a magazine isn’t, in part, caused by the fact that I was told over and over again that I could never be a writer: “it’s too competitive,” “you’ll never make any money,” “you need to get a real job,” etc. This has been my dream since I was eight years old, and I relish the fact that I am doing what I love every single day and proving all the naysayers wrong.

Don’t get me wrong: going into business for myself was scary. Joining Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time was scary. And the idea of running a half marathon is downright terrifying. But I’m starting to realize how important it is to embrace that fear.

I know now there is nothing more gratifying than doing something you thought you couldn’t do. That’s why I will keep lacing up my sneakers and training for that half marathon!

Is there something you do now that you never thought possible?

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2 thoughts on “The Thing You Think You Cannot Do

  1. I completely identify with this post. I was always excluded from team sports and never did well in running tests through school. Eventually, I gave up and decided these activities weren’t for me. I’m having to work hard each day now to convince myself that I CAN do these things and that I CAN lose weight and have a fun, active life. It’s not an easy road, so I salute your hard work and the struggle it takes to get there.

    • Hi Jen! Thank you so much for reading!

      I know exactly what you mean, Remember those awful physical fitness tests? I, too, was always chosen last (or excluded, like you said) from team sports. It’s hard not to just assume we weren’t “meant” to be physically active.

      It is not an easy road at all, but you CAN do this! I still struggle every day to keep the weight off and to continue engaging in activities like running without feeling like some kind of imposter. But it CAN be done!

      Please do feel free to follow me on Twitter/Facebook, subscribe to my blog, etc. I’d love to keep in touch!

      Thanks again!

      Jen

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