I came across this quote a few months ago, and it really stuck with me. At first, I read it literally as “Make sure others can’t guess what you’re next move is.” But then it hit me – I’m one of those “people” the quote refers to, which means I should be surprising myself.
So I started thinking. Do I surprise myself? What IS the fun in completing a task you know you can do?
For me, the most fun adventures are the ones I never thought I’d have. The risks I never thought I’d take. The gambles I never thought would pay off. The physical feats I never thought I’d overcome.
So I started on a mental list of things I never in a million years thought I’d do but did: ROTC and law school at the same time, living and interning in Washington, D.C., having my own business/blog (!!!!).
So what had I written off as impossible and not yet faced? Number one on that list . . .
Why had I given up on it? For one, I always told myself and others that I “just wasn’t a runner.” As a kid, it was because I lacked any type of athletic ability to run. When I reached ROTC in August 2014, it was because I was obsessed with training purely for strength and not endurance. Cardio was a no-go.
Photo by Brianna Kolota
So when another cadet in ROTC asked if I wanted to run the Army Ten-Miler Race in Washington, D.C. in October 2015, I was hesitant. I thought, “There’s no way I could run 10 miles straight. That’s too far. I feel like I’m going to die on the APFT’s 2-mile run.”
But I stopped myself. Sure, running 10 miles is a challenge, but I like challenges. And I knew I could find a “beginner’s” running plan that worked me up to 10 miles while avoiding injuries and over training.
So I said yes to the race. I was a little overwhelmed, but I was in.
In the 6-7 weeks prior to the race, I miraculously fit three runs in per week (one speed, one tempo, one long) despite my insane schedule. I ate well. I slept as much as I could while still fulfilling my responsibilities. I sacrificed some “down” time along the way, but it paid off.
The Army Ten-Miler Race pace below was my 2-mile pace a year prior to the race. It was a complete surprise to myself and at least two other cadets who ran that race. They knew I did NOT consider myself a runner.
But now, I do call myself a runner.
I’m a runner not because I run every day (because I don’t).
I’m a runner not because I have two long-distance races under my belt as of February (Army Ten-Miler Race and a half marathon).
And I’m definitely a runner not because I love running (because some days I loathe it).
I’m a runner because I surprised a lot of people by running the Army Ten-Miler Race and running it well. But more importantly, I surprised myself.
So whether you consider yourself a runner or not, ask these questions: “Am I immersed in the art of surprising others? Am I surprising myself?”
If the answer is no, find a challenge, big or small, and commit.
With work, take on a project that you’ve been hesitant to dive into for fear of failing or doing a “bad” job.
With food, meal prep on Sundays so you can finally stop making excuses for eating takeout every day.
And if you’re willing to tackle running like I did, set a goal.
As a newbie, run once per week. If you’ve only run for fun in the past, train for a fast 5k. Or if you’re finally ready to tackle a long-distance race, stay tuned for my next few posts.
In the coming weeks, I’ll post a program for a speedy 10-mile race and a program for your first half marathon. Expect workouts, sample meals, and rest day activities/mobility work.
I’m excited to share what I’ve learned, and I hope you stick around for it. 🙂
- How do you surprise yourself?
- What’s a recent race/fitness goal you accomplished that you never believed you’d be able to do?