Pushing Past Self-limits
Ever get stuck and feel like giving up?
Of course, we all do at times. Maybe that new workout routine isn’t, well, quite working. You hate your job. You want a better relationship. You’re tired and frustrated, and you just don’t have any more to give. You are done, d-o-n-e.
Moving on to something new is okay. Often, it’s merited.
But what distinguishes gracefully moving on and flat out giving up? (No one wants to be a quitter.)
How do you know when you’ve truly reached an outer most limit of your capacity: a complete impasse, never to be conquered? Or, could a break, some support, or a new day, bring a fresh perspective and a little more energy to just keep going; like an obstacle to overcome?
How do you make that call…tough one, right?
No one else can answer that for you. THAT quandary, is exactly why I triathlon. Preface, I’m not a pro and never will be. I’m a middle of the pack athlete, who sometimes walks on the run. A triathlon hobbyist.
Let me tell you something.
The first time I ran a half marathon I was thirty two. By mile 10, my feet hurt, my legs were jelly, and my mind said, “I’m done.” To my own surprise, my body found the finish line.
Every time I triathlon I am tested.
Dismounting my bike after 56 miles of 22mph winds and the choppiest 1.2 mile swim of my life, I’m fried. My legs shake. Everything aches. Mind says, “Now I have to run a half marathon? I don’t know if I can do this. ”
I remember coach’s words. “When you get to the run, you’re almost done.”
One foot in front of the other, my body carries me across 13.1 miles to the finish line of my first Ironman 70.3 mile triathlon.
Despite all the elements, no test is greater than the mental battle within me.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a fast paced sprint of less than thirty miles or one of the Iron distances. Every time I triathlon, at some point my mind says, “F-this. You haven’t trained enough. You’re too slow. Stop the suffering. You can’t do this, so you may as well quit. ”
And yet, when I breathe, I quiet my mind. Encouraging fellow racers, my pains dissipate. I think of those with illness or physical limitations, and I am grateful for my health. I thank my body, and then my support network, one at a time. And then, I do it all over again. And, again.
Carrying gratitude in my heart, something shifts. The finish line approaches and I realize I’m doing it. I’m almost done and I’m not quite sure how I got there.
Every time a finish line is within sight, I wonder, “Where else in life am I limiting myself?”
A volunteer hangs a medal around my neck and I feel like I can do anything.
No one can tell you when to move on, or when to dig a little deeper to just keep going. What I can tell you is this: I never thought I could be an athlete and now I Ironman.
The biggest hurdle in our way is not the time nor the distance, but our belief in our own abilities.
If you think you can, then you will. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or three years from now, but if a dream lives in your heart and you pursue it with vengeance, you will get there.
Next time you feel like you simply cannot <fill in the blank> any more, before you quit, here are a few things you can try:
- Take a break
- Call a friend, a mentor, or anyone in your community (If you don’t have one, find one.)
- Forget about yourself for a day and give of yourself for others
- Do something you love
- Sleep on it
And always remember, you can quit, or you can take a break and try again. Keep going.