Six months ago, during what might have been my third or fourth personal training session, The Trainer expressed a view that slow walking would turn into walking which would turn into fast walking which would turn into jogging which would turn into running. I remember the session vividly. The Trainer was sitting on a ball in front of the treadmill and I was walking, slowly, on said treadmill. I think I might have nodded in acknowledgement but I clearly remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine a day when my slow walking would ever translate into anything past slightly faster walking. I mean, I am not built to be a runner. I couldn’t remember the last time I ran for anything without nearing cardiac arrest. And even the teachers in PE at school let me skip cross country because I would have taken longer than the allotted class time to finish. So what was this guy on thinking I could run? Craziness. Nice guy, but wrong in this instance.
It feels like a long time ago now but all I used to do when I started training was walk and row. It probably was all I could do after a 21 year break from exercise. I would turn up every day and walk on the treadmill, at a speed starting at 2.5kph (which even a snail would probably laugh at) and when I’d done 30 minutes of that, I would row 500m as fast as I could (ie. not very). I got up to fast walking eventually but there was still no running. It was really boring and I definitely expressed frustration at the dreary routine, but I kept turning up every day regardless.
And then today, six months later, it’s a dull Monday and I was really struggling to feel awake. I missed my morning workout and I was definitely out of sorts. I really didn’t want to, but I knew that I should drag myself to the gym because it would make me feel better. With heavy legs and a lack of enthusiasm I thought “I’ll walk”. It got me through the first few months of training after all, so it would be good enough now. And what happened? I ran 1.25km out of 3.5km. It’s not the first time I’ve ran, obviously, but I went there thinking all I could do was walk, and I came out having enjoyed a really nice, relaxed run. Six months ago I heard The Trainer tell me I would be running one day and I thought he was nutty and a little misguided. And now I run for fun, just to wake me up, just because I enjoy it.
Self-belief is important and getting to your goals will be easier and less angst ridden if you have it, but I didn’t have any self-belief six months ago. I just turned up every day and did what I was told and I walked, ever so slightly quicker every day and I never gave up. It was often cold outside my warm bed and I got up anyway. I was often frustrated at what I thought was lack of progress and I turned up anyway. I often felt embarrassed with my friends in the gym when they’re doing all their fun stuff and I’m just walking, slowly, but I smiled and carried on anyway. And then one day, The Trainer was proved right, and I ran. And it wasn’t self-belief that turned my slow walking into a run, it wasn’t my confidence that anything was possible because I didn’t have any of that really. All that got me to where I am now was just my hard work and my many hours in the gym, practicing and training and working and trying and learning and not giving up.
So when I hear The Trainer, or anyone really, tell me that they’re sure I’ll complete the triathlons I’ve committed to, or that I’ll get a really heavy deadlift, or that one day I’ll have a strong hand stand push up or a strict pull up or just even that I’ll be able to do a full push up, it doesn’t matter if I believe them or not. It’ll be easier for me if I have some self-belief and confidence, and I have way more now than six months ago, but really all I need is to keep working. That’s the essence of #makingithappen and it’s why I know that anything is possible with a little effort.