I was soul searching & having an emotional reaction after last night’s group run. This is my summation.
I grew up being discouraged from doing many things that normal American kids take for granted. I was told worse case scenarios that could happen & grew up in a poor household. My parents worked hard, don’t get me wrong; but, poverty is a hard cycle to break. Add religion (that kept me safe but locally sheltered) & a mother (who often used discipline, fear tactics & guilt to take the fight out of her daughters) & I guess you could say, I had the deck stacked against me.
I grew up in the United States, however. Isn’t this the place I would receive the most ample opportunities I could ever receive? Much to my mother’s displeasure, I’ve moved away from her domineering influence. I still feel guilt if I dwell on it; so, I don’t. Running has been part of my late blooming “rebellion.” (And let’s get real. If running is the most rebellious thing I ever do, count your blessings.)
While I was able to hit some running distances, solo, throughout the years, I have made significant advancements with the help of my Marathon In Training group- all within one year. Part of me wanted to abide by how I was trained, growing up, & “be careful of worldly influence”; so, I trained solo for years. I floundered; but, I learned by trial & error. I finally decided I wanted a higher level of personal achievement; so, I nervously signed up for a local, organized, training group. I was scared out of my mind; but, “rebelliously,” I signed up, anyways.
I shattered personal records in the 5K, the 10K & 1/2 Marathon within a year. I am still chasing an improvement in the marathon. As I mustered up courage to ask my coach his input, I was delighted that he answered! Encouragement?! I’m constantly surprised at how supportive the running community is. I shouldn’t be surprised; but, I resort to my upbringing & thinking that ‘people shouldn’t support me doing this.’ I really need to move past this thinking; but, it’s strongly ingrained. I shared my stats with the head coach of MIT, he immediately zeroed in on the need to focus on my tempo runs. I would need to get used to holding a pace, for sustained mileage; but, he said he had no doubt I could surpass my goal. I was shocked & overjoyed at that prospect! He saw potential!
I admit I had never done one tempo run in my life, before last night. I did the mileage assigned to me, in the past, (usually- most of it)... but I was very easy on myself. “6 miles? Aaaaa... 5 is good enough...”
Last night was the “beginning” of pushing myself even more outside my comfort zone. I know advancements will come again, this year, if I run with a pack- if I follow the plan. The more I advance with this Tribe, I continue to “look back” at my mother. I wish she would give me a nod of approval. My heart is torn; but, I try not to dwell...
As for my thinking/negative self-talk, I’m working on it. Every time I power through, I show that nagging “you’re wrong/you can’t/you SHOULDN’T” voice inside my head that I’m strong, I’m safe & I’m okay. I am totally breaking my family’s traditions & while I’m proud, I’m sad. I’m sad that this is taking as much mental work as it is physical work. I’m sad that other people, including my mother, have settled for “where they are.” I’m sad for kids that don’t realize they can break free from whatever cycle they think they’re stuck in. I’m sad for parents that don’t realize the long term effects of “what” they are doing to their kids...
I can’t say enough about this program. It’s making this condescending self-doubter become more than a runner. I’m still a mid packer; but, I never thought I’d EVER like getting off the couch or enjoy getting drenchedly sweaty (& smiling). I’m proving something to myself that is more than running. I’m making confidence. I’m not building confidence. Building insinuates there was some sort of base, a foundation, already. I, literally, had NO reason to believe I could do anything more than marry, work, have babies and raise babies. I had no clue that you could do things for self enrichment.
To learn that you have physical strength, is to feel empowerment over other aspects of your life. You realize you may not be able to control the world, but you can sometimes “steer” where YOU are going. Steering your mind is the first step. When you didn’t have that understanding growing up, it is extremely empowering.
Call this a mid life crisis. Call it an act of rebellion. Call it selfish. I call it breaking free & finding myself. I call it self respect, self empowerment, self motivation, self kindness... This is WAY beyond last night’s tempo run...