I took out running today in the humid, after-rain morning sun.  As I mentioned in a previous post, The Mommy-Tummy Challenge, I’ve never been what you could call “athletic.”  I know I could have been what with my sturdy legs and family history of basketball players (mom & aunts) and track runner/football player (dad), but music and art were my foci as a young lass.

Oh, and I guess my lack of coordination would be a problem, too.  I digress.

In the new year of 2011, my Richie and I decided (like everyone else each new year) to be physically fit like never before.  To make 2011 the year our bodies had never seen.  Well, since my twins were born later that year, it proved true.

We chose running.  Specifically, to run our first 5K by the end of March.  We enlisted, er…enrolled in a sandy 5K morning run on Galveston Beach.  Funny thing is, that in 3 months of preparation for that race, the race itself was our first time to actually run that far.  In the sand.  With the Gulf winds blowing against us.  We were never more proud and exhausted to cross that finish line.

We chose running because you don’t need a membership to a gym.  Running because it requires very little equipment.  Running because it just seemed easy.  In a way, all of that was true.  But, I never factored in the one thing that running a specific distance or elapsed time has taught me.  Running isn’t about speed.  It isn’t about distance.  It’s about starting a pace and letting the momentum drive you.

The only thing you have to do is convince yourself to keep letting one foot fall in front of the other.

Through the pain.

Through the sweat.

Through the steep inclines.

You’ve gotta keep going.

In fact, once you’ve gotten your second wind (It DOES it exist.  For me, it happens after about 7 minutes of running), it’s easier to keep running than to stop and walk at intervals.  Non-runners, believe it.  Truth is spoken here.

Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up.  (General George S. Patton, Jr.)

Our bodies are weak.  The mind so much stronger. Our bodies are machines that do exactly what our minds tell them to do.

The problem is that we allow ourselves discussion.

We let a discussion ramble on in our minds when we find ourselves behind, or weak, or tired, or bored.  Something like this:

“I know I meant to run 3 miles today, but it’s hot.  And I haven’t run in a while.  So, one mile is good enough for now.  Yeah, I’m done.”

“I was up late last night with a sick child.  I owe it to myself to sleep in instead of going for that run today.”

And it doesn’t even have to apply to running.  It can be about anything.  It can be about getting up and going to work.

Or quitting your boring job to cultivate that home business you’ve been dreaming of starting for the last 5 years.

Or going back to school.

Or giving up the daily cup of designer coffee from Starbucks to save up for the 12-day Mediterranean cruise celebrating an upcoming mile-marker 15-year wedding anniversary.

That last one was a little specific.  You got me.

I don’t want to wish something over my entire life only to find a thousand excuses to explain away why it never happened.  When, the real problem all along was because of lack of discipline and the invading discussion.  Jon Acuff talks about “the discussion” versus “the decision” in his great book, Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job.

“I’ll do my best” doesn’t work anymore.  Sometimes “my best” isn’t good enough because what is actually my best and what I allow myself to believe is my best are two very different and, all too many times, opposing things.  Then, there are times that you can do your best, your actual, dead-level best, and the opportunity goes to someone else.  That’s called time and chance.  And, the Bible can back that up.

Again I looked throughout the earth and saw that the swiftest person does not always win the race, nor the strongest man the battle, and that wise men are often poor, and skillful men are not necessarily famous; but it is all by chance, by happening to be at the right place at the right time.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11 TLB)

You never know when opportunity is going to knock at your door.  So you have to be prepared.  You have to have been disciplined enough to have gotten your skills and character ready for that opportunity.

Just believing God for something isn’t always gonna cut it.  To ace the test, you’re gonna have to study. You can’t just rub your Bible in your prayer closet and expect God to pop out dressed like a genie to grant your proverbial three wishes.

Faith and determined, purposeful action MUST collide to bring about a final product.

I just finished reading a remarkable book about building skills and talent by Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills.  This book is LEGIT.  Totally inspiring.  Totally doable.

Coyle states that you can’t undo wiring in the brain.  Once your brain makes a connection to doing something, it retains that connection always and forever.  So, you can’t actually break a habit.  You have to form a new habit to defer to.  This also proves my point that there is ALWAYS going to be chance for discussion.  Once you make a new and better habit, you’re still going to have to choose between the new one and the old one that is waiting in the wings to be used.  You are still going to have to exercise discipline to decide for your betterment.

There are days that even experienced marathoners want to throw their running shoes in the trash.

Coyle reports that a substance called myelin— it reinforces the pathways that have been created in the brain by learning—continues to form even into old age.  The more you perform the task, the more myelin produced to “coat” the connection, so to speak.  Only the rate of its growth changes over time.

You are never too old to learn, it just might take longer leaving more opportunity for discussion and excuses.

Old dogs can learn new tricks.  It just takes more time and repetition and determination.

I am more out of shape than I was when I started running in 2011.  My body has gone through a twin pregnancy in which I was on hospital bed rest for seven weeks, recovery from a major surgery (C-section) for an additional six weeks, and 35 pounds of weight gain.  And, still, I took off and ran a longer distance today than I ever could have done when I began in 2011.  Even a small sprained muscle in my ankle.  I kept going anyway.

Running has taught me one major thing above all.  My mind has been the problem all along.  Determination.  Discipline.  I can always go one more step than I thought I could.  Learning that about myself is invaluable.

I’ve had a lot of potential throughout my life, but was waiting for the easy way.  When, in truth, most successful people don’t get it the easy way.  Now that I’ll be approaching 40 in a few years, I could just sit and talk about past accomplishments for the rest of my life while I let my children hold all of the potential.

Or, I can show them that success doesn’t have to have a shelf life.

If you really want something to happen in your life or to incorporate something into your routine, figure out a way to do it.  You don’t want to look back and say, “I should have.  I could have.”  Step out on faith, believe in yourself, and move mountains.  We were created in the image of the Great Creator.  Life should not happen to you.  Make life happen for you.

And when the discussion invades, don’t give yourself an out.

Isn’t this the example you want to leave for your kids?

What area have you left open for discussion instead of making a no-holds-barred, no-takebacks, firm decision?  Leave a comment below.

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