In running and in life, the first mile is the hardest. At least it is for me. It takes time to get the creak out of my bones, loosen up my muscles, and get into a groove. Any little thing can distract me. My arm band is not quite right, my bra is a little tight, or the weather isn’t as perfect as I’d hoped it would be. I think to myself, I said I wanted to run a 10K, but did I really mean it? I know this is just my laziness trying to get me back into my comfort zone: in my bed watching Netflix.
But stopping isn’t an option.
Just typing those words is an affirmation applicable to so many aspects of life. This isn’t just about running, jogging, or walking. It’s not even just about achieving an optimal state of personal health. It’s about persevering when the path ahead seems unconquerable, too difficult to traverse, or too plain uncomfortable.
I once told a group of young women that in order to make a difference, we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Those words never rang more true than they did Memorial Day weekend when I completed my first 10K as part of the Zooma Women’s 10K & Half in Annapolis, Maryland.
I first started seriously exercising simply out of vanity, like many of us do. I wanted to look my best at my October 2012 wedding. And I did look good, but I wanted to keep running because I felt good, too. It felt good knowing I could set a goal and meet it, and it felt good to have a community supporting me on my journey. I had joined Black Girls RUN! in early 2012 and found the encouragement to get running, the support to go at my own pace, and the community I needed to motivate me to set goals and keep up the hard work. What started as a tactic for weight loss evolved into a greater means for self-empowerment. With over 60 running groups across the United States, Black Girls RUN! is helping women get up and active, lose weight, fight obesity, and pursue health. This is all too important for Black women and girls who are more likely to experience overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and negative health outcomes related to an inactive lifestyle.
When I was younger, I had perpetual lung and breathing problems, was diagnosed with asthma, and relieved from participating in any summer track & field activities. I didn’t really like track, and I was happy enough to sit in the library all summer reading. While I grew out of my asthma, I never grew into taking on challenging physical activity. I had internalized the belief that I just couldn’t run. It wasn’t for me and it wasn’t in me. But that’s only a lie I told myself.
I wonder how many of us have thought that we can’t do something when it is simply not true.
I can run, and jog, and accepted that sometimes I just need to walk. I can finish 6 miles and more. I can set goals and meet them. I can overcome every obstacle to accomplish what I set my mind to. On the Zooma course this weekend, there was a sign with a quote from Henry Ford that stuck with me: “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” As I kept running, I thought about how relevant that is to both the personal and professional: my career, my marriage, my spirituality. What could I achieve if I focused only on the goal?
That weekend, I held my medal high, proud of my accomplishment. I can’t say that I did it alone. I had the support of Black Girls RUN!, my husband, and everyone who was out there doing their best to overcome real or imagined obstacles.
The first mile is the hardest, but it’s the first in the right direction to better health, to success, and believing in yourself.
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