A funny thing happened when I stopped training for a marathon. My pants shrunk. They didn’t fit like they did when I had been running thirty miles a week. I had still been going to the gym, but running had lost its luster. Before I knew it my usual five days a week dwindled to three. Every time I’d plan and think that this was the week I’d get back to running something would come up and I wouldn’t be able to go. It didn’t take long before two miles felt like ten. Without a workout schedule specifying exactly how many miles I was to run each day, there was no intention, and therefore my mind dictated how far and how fast I’d run. It didn’t work out well.

Every time I got on the treadmill to run and didn’t perform like I used to I got upset. I remembered the days when seven miles was an easy workout so when I had to walk before reaching three miles I wanted to give up. I struggled with this for months. My fear that I’d never be as good as I once was plagued me.

Time went on; the scale went up. For the first time in years, I felt the helplessness I remembered feeling as a teenager when I so badly wanted to lose weight yet felt like I wasn’t in control, my body was. I was big boned or had big hips and therefore losing weight was next to impossible. Surely it had nothing to do with my late night pizza binges or all the junk food I ate.

Eventually, I learned the power of choice. I learned that what I did every day mattered. Whether it was running, eating healthy, meditating, or writing. Change happened when I worked at something over time.

So, I couldn’t understand why I was having such a difficult time running because I had already proved to myself that I could run a marathon.Why was it so hard? Fear. This time the fear was stronger because I knew how much work training for a race was and I knew I’d feel bad if I didn’t improve. Of course, I didn’t think this everytime I stepped onto the treadmill. All I felt was the barrage of negative thoughts that wore the masks of fear.

One day I woke up and decided it was time.  So, I signed up for a race because as my husband will confirm I’m probably the most stubborn person he knows next to himself and our two children. I pulled out my old running schedule because I needed to end the habit of going to the gym with no plan and coming home frustrated because nothing was changing. Each day I set the intention to run exactly what the workout schedule set. And suddenly I could do it again. One week, then two weeks, then three weeks went by. It didn’t matter how tired I was I kept going. There were days I really, really didn’t want to run, but by then I had come so far I didn’t want to have to start all over again. Also, I knew that the days that were the hardest to get motivated were the days I needed it the most. I didn’t give in. I kept going.

What did I learn? Believing in myself isn’t something I can do once or twice and retain for the rest of my life. Like writing and running, it must be practiced. The simple act of saying to myself I can and I will is a mantra I must keep close. It is my light when fear cloaks me in darkness.

This is the song I listen to when I need to let in the light. 3 THINGS Jason Mraz

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