Removing the Qualifiers

Last Friday, I did something scary. I went to a class at my gym called “Tri Tread” – forty-five minutes of various running drills on a treadmill to help participants prepare for a triathlon. From across the gym, I’ve gazed in wonder at the group of lithe ectomorphs who populate this class. I’ve wanted to join their ranks for awhile now, but, frankly, I’d been scared that I can’t keep up.

Plus, treadmills are terrifying. Seriously. No other piece of workout equipment physically ejects you if you fail to make pace.

Fear aside, I decided to go for it.

As I warmed up, the instructor, someone I knew well from other classes, came over to welcome me. She told me not to worry about the other people in the class – some of whom had been training for awhile now – and to work at my own pace.

“Good,” I said, “because I’m a bad runner.”

An alarm went off in my head. This is exactly the type of thinking I’m trying to combat.

Why did I feel a need to qualify my running ability? Whether I’m a good runner or a bad runner, I’m still a runner. I’m still out there running. What’s more important: my mile time or my willingness to try? Everyone has to start someplace.

I made it through the whole class and left feeling quite proud of myself. I’m going to make this class a regular part of my week.

[It must be said that none of this could have been accomplished without the encouraging, inspiring trainers and coaches at Equinox who assure me, daily, that anything is possible if I’m willing to put in the time. I am willing. I am a runner.]

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About Helena

Helena lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and two cats. Her boyfriend thinks she's awesome. Her cats agree.

Posted on March 14, 2011, in Miscellany and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Bravo. 🙂

    I have become an exerciser in the last year or so. I have become someone who looks forward to spin and enjoys the afterburn of aerobics.

    But man, I am SO not a runner. I hate running. I would much rather walk briskly then ever, ever run.

    Still… I’m sure it’s possible. Maybe I should stop saying I can’t. 🙂

  2. I think about this often with regard to music. It doesn’t matter that I’m not the best guitarist in the world (no one is): I’m still in a band and writing songs and creating things that I hope are greater than the sum of their parts.

    Women are more apt to qualify their talents (or lack thereof) than men are, I’ve noticed. You don’t see men being self-deprecating in order to justify their goals, they just go out and do whatever they want. It’s like we’re trained to apologize for being ambitious, and our apologies negate any psychic territory we’ve staked.

    Thank you for this blog, Helena.

  3. Good for you! I have the same qualifying problem with running, so I can relate to your feelings there. But you are right, running is RUNNING, no matter how fast or how slow. You are doing it.

    (P.S. That class sounds both scary and FUN.)

  4. I do the same thing whenever I’m biking, or doing any form of exercise: the internal monologue of beating myself up for not being better/faster/stronger. I’ve been trying to curb this (un)natural voice in my head by telling myself that I’m fitter than I used to be, that breaking a sweat means I’m gaining strength.

    But it still doesn’t mean I’m going to take up running. I look like a spazz. 😉

  5. Renita – I was all about step aerobics in college and love the dance class I currently take. Running is a different animal, indeed.

    D – Excellent point! It is, sadly, a “female thing” for the most part. Congratulations on everything with your band – sounds like you really enjoy it, which is really all that matters.

    FA – The class IS kind of fun. It’s definitely a good workout! Like most new things, it was scary at first, but I’m glad I tried.

    Theresa – The internal monologue is the worst – I think we are all our own worst critics… It’s hard to turn it off, but I’m going to try!

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