When I got back from a 3-mile run in frigid temperatures with my dog, my husband asked how it was. “Freezing,” I replied as I unhooked myself from my dog’s leash and blew my nose. “I’m headed back out for a bit.” My husband looked at me and said, “But you just said it was freezing.” We both know I prefer warm weather. “Why are you going back out?” I thought about it. My running journey has evolved over the years. As a college student I would run a mile or 2 to feel better about myself and prevent (further) weight gain. In my early 20s I suddenly shifted from hating running, which I saw as a necessary evil, to an activity I enjoyed sharing with others and in beautiful environments, when I started running with a coworker in Washington, DC. Eventually I started participating in 10k races and the training gave my workout routines structure, and I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment of reaching goals and crossing finish lines with others who shared a similar mindset. I started participating in triathlons as a way to have more variety in my workouts and to satisfy my curiosity about this multisport. Eventually, as I felt more encouraged by what my body could do, and I felt connected with a community of people who endorsed a healthy lifestyle, I pushed further and further, finishing my first Ironman triathlon a month after my 40th birthday. It never ceased to amaze me how I went from being someone who in high school had the nickname “Tortuga” (Turtle) due to my performance at my first and last track meet, to being a mom who had racked up dozens of medals and trophies, for finishing and even placing in the top 3 places (age group and even a couple overall) in running and multisport events.
When I contemplated whether I was going to head back out after dropping off the dog, or staying justifiably satisfied with my 3 mile run and sinking into a hot epsom salt bath, the reason I opted to head back out was not because I had to prove anything. I was not thinking of burning calories or achieving a certain weight or shape, or how my mileage stacked up against anyone else’s that day. What sent me back out was my belief that if I delay the comfort of the hot bath, and instead face discomfort for another 20 minutes, I am building a habit. Next time I am in a situation where I am tempted to avoid discomfort, I will know that I am someone who pushes through discomfort. I know all too well through my work as a coach, how problematic it can be when we become addicted to comfort and avoid situations that challenge us mentally, emotionally and physically. Our culture is addicted to comfort, and we receive messages every day that enable us to choose what is easy and popular, but ultimately, comes at a cost. The person I am today is a result of the choices I have made consistently over the last 5, 10, 20 years. I have developed a habit of thinking of this when I am making choices every day. These are the questions I ask myself:
Just because I can, does it mean I should?
Is this choice building a habit I want?
If it’s true that “how I do one thing is how I do everything” - what does this choice mean about how I do other things?
Will my 20-years-from-now-self thank my current self for the choice I am making today?
And, so, I headed back out into the cold.
Wellness coach, athlete, mom, entrepreneur. I love helping people mindfully reboot their health & joy.