I am currently on my summer vacation, two weeks with my family in a place I like to call the best place on earth. It is my family’s summer cottage back east and I have been coming here since I was born. This is where I let my hair down. I relax, I sit still, I read, I eat and I enjoy the marvellous sunshine. It is not all fun and games here however and everyday I do at least 2 hours of exercise: a run, some swimming, a stand up paddle, a road ride (I trek my bike here each summer), water skiing or a hike.
Today it was an annual 100km road ride that I do with some friends from back home that also have cottages in the area. I was up at 5am this morning and out the door just before 6am to meet my friends at a neighbouring lake and we set off on our bikes at 7. I have been dreading this ride since I arriving at the cottage as I knew it was going to be tough. These riders are not casual riders and I knew with the limited riding that I have been doing it was going to be hard to keep up. And was I right! Head winds combined with never ending hills made the ride out to our turn around point painful but thankfully I knew that most of the way back we would have the winds at my back.
Why am I sharing this? Because today I was reminded what it feels like to feel pain, to feel SO exhausted all I want to do is stop and I have not felt that way since the Boston Marathon. I have been letting myself take it easy since Boston and I have not faced any hard physical challenges since (mental challenges yes, with my new love for mountain biking, but I have not physically challenged myself in ways I am used to).
I was reminded today how important it is to stay positive when you are being challenged. One of my riding partners is currently fighting a very tough battle with prostate cancer and even he was beating me up the hills and was battling the wind with a smile on his face and enjoying every minute of the pain. At one point, one of the riders had to push me to help me rest as we worked up a hill. I could have told myself that I was slow, out of shape, that I should just turn around and head back, that I was slowing everyone down, that I deserve this suffering for being the slacker that I have been lately. But I did not and instead I created my own mantra, telling myself that I am a good cyclist and I love riding and how lucky I was to be out riding with such special people in such a special place and instead of wishing I was not there or that this ride would end instantly I embraced it all and took in the all of the good with the bad.
When you are out running, or hiking or doing whatever it is that you do that is a challenge to you: create your own mantra. Tell yourself that you can do it and that you are good at doing it and that you enjoy doing it. And the challenge that you feel is a positive experience and if you are tired, or your muscles burn or you are frustrated remind yourself that is how you are supposed to feel and it are these feelings that are making you a better athlete. This is how you become comfortable at being uncomfortable.
And as you watch the Olympics and see those who win gold, silver and bronze medals and those who come so close, think about where they would be if they gave in each time they felt tired or did not think they were good enough. It is about believing in yourself and your ability to accomplish anything – it might not be an Olympic Gold Medal but it just might be that mountain you have been afraid to climb or that finish line you are hoping to cross.
Attached - Michelle Trachtenberg leaves the gym.