Quotes and quips that keep you motivated!
Well, I have many of those.
The quote that started it all for me was John Bingham's "the miracle isn't that I finished; the miracle is that I had the courage to start."
These days, as I pull myself out of a year-long tough rut and get back out on the pavement, rekindle my spirit, and remember why I run, I'm living by a different mantra.
“Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases some past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean slate. Each foot strike rubs away a word, a look, or an event which led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp.”
I wrote about this quote last year when training for the marathon -- and these days, as I enter a phase of struggling to figure out who & what I am, what I stand for, and what I wanna be when I grow up, nothing seems more appropriate.
Without further ado, I give you:
Erase and Rewrite
Whenever I read this quote from John Bingham, my eyes immediately fill with tears. I have such an instant, uncontrollable emotional reaction to those words that it always takes me by surprise. I immediately flash back and started playing “old tapes.”
I have vivid memories of 6th grade gym class, when running just one mile seemed painful and impossible, and I used every single excuse in the book to get out of it. “I think I have tendonitis in my heels,” I tried one time. “These shoes just aren’t good enough to run in.” Not bad for an eleven year old. The Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge was a joke to me—how could I possibly be expected to do all those pull-ups and climb a rope? Those four laps around the track seemed like they took hours. It is hard to believe that, these days, I can cover that territory in just over 10 minutes.
In 10th grade gym class, when my gym teacher (who happened have been my father’s high school football coach), looked at me during role call on the first day of school and called out, “Seaberg? I know your father—I expect some fine athletics out of you,” I wanted to disappear. He didn’t know I was the self-proclaimed band geek who would, just weeks later, shatter my wrist playing soccer in his class and spend the rest of the semester tutoring mentally handicapped kids, a far better match for my interests and skills at the time.
When it came time to pick a college, I am embarrassed to admit, something that caught my eye about my small, liberal arts school is the fact that rather than a fitness requirement, they had an arts requirement—music, painting, acting. Sign me up!
I have always told myself, over and over again, “I’m not an athlete, I’m not athletic. I can’t run. I’m not good at sports.” These tapes played for years, especially, “I can’t run.” It echoes in my head sometimes even today, and now that I look back on it, I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry.
I laugh because, amazingly, not only can I run, but I’m actually kind of good at it. I’m not fast, but the years of working out and losing weight have actually conditioned my body, or at least my cardiovascular system, into that of a pretty good endurance athlete. I cry because I feel sorry for that girl who didn’t understand that some people just aren’t born able to excel athletically, whose teachers expected every kid to be a natural-born track star. I giggle with validation, because I’ve realized that like my flute and piano playing, like the lines I memorized for plays and the lyrics I memorized for choir, it takes practice, dedication, discipline, and painstaking attention to detail. Those were my passions at the time, and without realizing it, they taught me just as much about athletics as any coach. Most importantly, it taught me that you always have the opportunity to do better next time, and that no matter what mistakes you make, there is a lesson to be learned in every performance.
My running shoes really are erasers. Every time I put them on, I feel that I have the power to erase (and then rewrite) a part of my identity—whether it is the years of self-doubt, or the terrible run last weekend when it was so humid I wanted to cry, or the mental “tapes” that I played for years, that sometimes still creep into my brain. The power of every foot strike and each mile I log rewrites and reinforces the notion that we are all so much more than just sums of our past—just because you’ve always been something (or told yourself you were), doesn’t mean that is who you have to continue to be. The beauty of being unique humans aiming for an authentic life is the ability to constantly reevaluate, reinvent, and rewrite. We are a bright, wide-open future, just waiting to be discovered; an unlimited path of potential, just waiting for somebody to run.
People say to me, all the time, flippantly, “Oh, that’s great that you are doing that, but I can’t run.” I want to sit them down and lecture them, but I refrain—instead, I just smile and say “sure you can… you just have to decide, and then work at it.”
To anybody reading this that plays those mental tapes of self-doubt, I encourage you to take today to “erase and rewrite.” Put on your shoes, step out into the sunshine, and run towards the person you want to be.
Today, I'm posting this just before flying out the door and flying to San Francisco for a 2-day whirlwind trips of meetings and projects. This time, I'm running the show (not my boss) and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a bit nervous. It marks a change in my role within our department, company, and my account. And I know that it's time to erase the past tapes where I was a low level worker on the account, and rewrite myself as a powerful young executive, capable, strong, and filled with energy and ability.
As a bonus -- I'll have time on Thursday afternoon to go for a really long run in a city I love. Can't think of a better way to find my mind.
Off and running,