One thing that I love about running is that it provides the right atmosphere for meaningful conversation with running friends or space for deep thought when running alone. Most of my revelations about life or clarity during times of decision occur when I'm out for a run.
The chill in this morning's air, overcome by the hope of good conversation with my running friend Val, failed to keep me in bed this morning. We were out early (thank goodness for the increasingly earlier morning light!) and were engaged in our typical morning run talk: describing how our training has been going, hearing a recap of Val's half-marathon last weekend, giving injury updates. We replayed some disappointment about recent race performances and then shifted to talking about the power of our brains when it comes to training and racing. Together we decided (again, for we've had conversations like this before) that mental training is almost as important as physical training. Having my mind set on the positive "I can do it" invites my body into agreement. The outcome of this thinking is confidence and power. Conversely, fearing that I can't do it and focusing on weakness seems to sap strength and diminish my efforts.
Lately, I've heard several of these "I can do it" stories. Last week, I was at a workshop crafted by my daughter's teachers to help parents understand the power of language in a child's development. We had an opportunity to share and celebrate a moment in our lives when a friend, teacher, parent, or mentor told us something that gave us strength. One parent, a successful business owner, told us that his parents and other mentors never told him that things were off-limits for him. They used their teachable moments to influence him to believe that there were no boundaries on what he would be able to accomplish. He shared about how powerful the cultivation of this attitude has been in his life and how it's allowed him to really enjoy his life and to attempt things that he may not have tried if he was taught to believe that certain things were unattainable.
And last Friday, through my involvement with Girls On The Run, I had the opportunity to watch a movie called Miss Representation. (Interestingly, a theme through this movie is that young girls -- and boys too -- are taught to believe that they can or can't do things based on the messages they receive from the media, which often reinforces negative gender stereotypes.) A local newscaster provided the movie's introduction. An anchor for 30 years, she shared about mentors in her life who helped her break into a male-dominated field and who supported her along the way. She also told us about one of her favorite news stories, about a grocery store employee named Dennis. Dennis may seem to be an ordinary man by most people's standards. But he is also a loyal Oprah fan, writing to Oprah daily for years, lending his encouragement and input about her show, her clothes -- really anything and everything. He was so devoted that he got Oprah's attention and was invited to sit in the front row for her show's final episode, a not-so-ordinary opportunity. When the newscaster interviewed Dennis, he revealed his core belief that God's view of him, his life, and what is possible for him is so much greater than he could ever imagine. This is how it became reality for him to do something like become Oprah's honored guest.
Lately, I've been feeling discouraged about the marathon that I'll be running in 6 weeks (yikes!). I'm tired, and my training hasn't gone as planned. But these are just the more surface-level symptoms of what's really going on inside. I'm afraid -- afraid that I'll be disappointed in my marathon performance, afraid that I won't be able to complete the race. But the message in these "I can do it" stories sticks with me, challenging me, filling me with hope, causing me to wonder what could be in store for my marathon -- and for my life.
Where do you need to have an "I can do it" attitude?