Working out is only hard if you choose for it to be. But you are stronger than your excuses. Let one man’s dedication to a 100 mile mountain bike race show you how.
When I was little, some might say I was allergic to sweat (and arguably, any kind of physical activity that didn’t involve chocolate or cake as a reward at the end). I was also allergic to dirt.
I was self diagnosed.
Needless to say, my parents were hard pressed to get me into sports. I cried my way through my first 17 years of skiing (ok, maybe it was only the first 5, but I’m sure it seemed like an eternity to my parents), got booed off the soccer field at the tender age of 5 (arguably by my very own parents, though they’ll never tell), and despised the idea of playing tennis in the hot sun for more than 30 seconds. In fact, 9 times out of 10 I would protest the heat by simply putting my racket down on the court and going inside.
So when the universe put my now husband, Ted, in my path, I’m certain there was laughter. For Ted is anything but clean and sweatless (I made that word up). You can dress him up, to be sure, and he looks dashing, if I don’t say so myself. Especially when he wears a bow tie. But more often than not, you will find him in yoga shorts and a moisture wicking t-shirt. And I’ve had the very lucky opportunity – on more occasions that I care to admit – to accidentally get a whiff of his post 25 mile-run shorts innocently draped over the railing to dry. Delicious.
I started to open the door to a more balanced relationship with sports when I was in my last few years of high school. I joined the rugby team, the alpine racing team, the rowing team, and even picked up my tennis racket again. By the time I met Ted in 2009, I was committed to working out a few times a week.
Since meeting and falling in love with him, I work out religiously at least 5 times a week, no matter where I am in the world. I have become an avid trail runner, and am no stranger to getting caked with dirt and sweat.
Once I finally got over my alleged allergy to sweat and dirt, I got to experience the side of physical activity that is only open to those who are willing to see it:
Pushing yourself to the limit, and oftentimes even beyond it. Fighting past the limitations of your mind. Making the impossible possible. Physical activity – and more specifically – working out to your breaking point – teaches you incredible lessons that go way beyond the scope of your workout. It teaches you about life. It shows you what you’re made of.
Though I’ve uttered many an f-word while climbing up a canyon on a trail run, trying to make my way through the powder and the moguls on a ski hill through the trees, or muscling my way through the heat of a half marathon, there was never a single workout I regretted. Not one. Because the rewards always outweighed the pain. And I’m not talking material rewards (though the free protein bars and bananas are awesome). It’s much more than that.
The true reward at the end of every workout – the one that keeps you coming back for more – is the thrill of knowing you did something you didn’t think you could do. And until you’ve experienced this in some capacity, you’ll never know how addictive it is, or how good it is for you in so many other ways besides just physical health. It makes your life brighter. It sets you up for the kind of success you thought was only reserved for your dreams. Because it teaches you that just when you think you cannot take another step, you can, and you do. And if you can do that in a workout, you can do that everywhere else in your life too.
Ted is always pushing the limits and constantly taking things to the next level, way more than I am, at least, where physical exertion is concerned. It’s exhausting, to be sure, but more than anything else, it’s inspiring. It motivates me. It moves me. And though it drives me bananas sometimes (he puts in a lot of training hours which means less time together), I’m so proud of him for doing it. And I’m grateful to him too. Because with every race he signs up for, every finish line he crosses, and every finishing medal he proudly sports, he unknowingly challenges me to show up. To show up at my workouts, to show up in my life. And to make sure that when I do show up, I am the best version of myself. Otherwise, what’s the point?
And so I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to my husband.
Last week, he signed up for the biggest race he’s ever attempted: The Leadville 100 mile trail mountain bike race. They call it the Race Across The Sky. And race across the Colorado sky he did, sporting a great attitude and an inner strength to be reckoned with.
For on and off the bike, as is true with everything he does, Ted never failed to reach deep down into his gut, into to his soul, where he pulled out the courage he needed to fuel himself to finish that race, to conquer it, to conquer his fear, his doubt. And though he was tired, and kept saying, “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done!” he finished the race. 10 hours and 28 minutes of pure grit, determination, and pushing himself to the brink, and beyond it.
And here is the ultimate act that makes Ted who he is:
He signed up for next year’s race before he’d even exited the finishing area.
Because next year, he’s going for 9 hours. Because he wants to. Because he just has to. Because he can. He knows he can.
And so Ted will take that fighting attitude with him for the next 364 days, racing other races, training for hundreds and even thousands of hours. And with every stroke of his pedal, and every stride of his legs, he will motivate me to be the best me I know how to be (though I won’t be signing up for that 100 mile race anytime soon!).
And so I throw it over to you. Is there a race you’ve been itching to sign up for? Maybe it’s a 5K? A 10K? A half or full marathon? An Ironman? Or maybe you’ve been meaning to work out more (or period) and you need a little extra motivation to get you going.
Whatever it is, maybe today’s the day that you sign up for that race, or that workout routine. And if you need a little extra help to take that leap, here are 5 reasons to do it:
1. Do it for those who can’t.
Maybe you know someone who has passed away, or someone who doesn’t have the same faculties as you do that limits their ability to do a race like this, or to work out. Do it for them. And think about them every time you want to quit.
2. It will give you a strong sense of accomplishment.
Imagine how good you will feel after you finish that race you were afraid to sign up for, or that workout you really didn’t want to do. I know for me, I feel like I’m on top of the world (not to mention completely free of guilt if I want to consume a giant stack of chocolate chip pancakes shortly after a race. Just sayin’). And that feeling is not only contagious, it is also addictive. You will want to do more, and push yourself more…and more…and more!
3. It will make you more courageous.
Courage may not be a muscle, but like any other muscle, it grows the more you use it. Doing anything that makes you nervous or fearful will help you to see how courageous you actually are. And by developing that courage, you can bring it into other areas of your life. If you can fight through the limitations of your mind and make it just one more step, one more mile, one more hill, you can approach the rest of your life in the same manner. Think of all the things you can accomplish!
4. It will make you stronger, both physically and mentally.
The physical part is obvious – the more you train, the stronger you will get. But the mental strength that is needed to train is just important – if not more so – than the physical aspect of it. If you are mentally strong there’s no stopping you! Because if limitations are only as real as the mind allows them to be, then you really can do anything you consciously set your mind to do.
5. It will likely increase your lifespan.
Research shows that increasing physical activity can increase life expectancy by anywhere from 1 – 7 and 1/2 years. And beyond that, when you’re training and taking care of yourself physically, you are more likely to make healthier food and life choices, which benefits your body even more.
There are 17 thousand more reasons to sign up for a race, or to get back into the swing of working out. So whether it’s one of the 5 listed above, or some other reason, find the ones that resonate with you, and get out there!
Because you can. You know you can.
You are stronger than your excuses. You are stronger than you think. You are stronger than you know.
So do yourself a favor and just do it.
This post originally appeared at Delectableyou.com
Photo provided with permission from the author.
To follow Ted and his crazy adventures on instagram, go to @teddymcdonald