Bad at something new

I did a thing today. For me, it was a big thing. Not so much because of what I did, but the fact that I did it.

Can I let you in on a little secret about me? For pretty much my entire adult life, I’ve been a starter. Often a reluctant starter. And rarely a finisher when it comes to fitness goals. I’d get frustrated with the way the jeans fit or how the skirt looked and begrudgingly exercise for a few days, maybe a few weeks and on one or 2 occasions a few months. But then I’d quit. I guarantee you I could give you a valid reason.

But I’d always let a valid reason for “taking it easy ” turn into a bad excuse for quitting. Always. Then months would go by again before I started the ridiculous cycle over again. Until August.

This August, I decided that I was going to train for a 5k. I wanted to train for and complete a 5k before the cross country season was over. (Key to success 1: Commit to the end before you begin.) The 5k distance is what Payne has run all of high school in cross country. I wanted to do it before he was done at Tivy.

Within a short time of starting my training, our church announced a 5k at the camp our church owns here in town. It would be a tough course, but it would also be a smaller field of runners. And it fell on a rare Saturday that had nothing else on the calendar. I paid the registration. (Key to success 2: Commit in a way that motivates you to do the thing. I hate wasted money. If I paid, I’d show up.)

A couple of weeks into training, it started to get harder. I seriously had ZERO motivation to get out the door. Z E R O. I was sore all the time. I didn’t “see” results. I had so much self-doubt. Could I even really do this? But I went out. Because I was more determined to be healthy than I was to be lazy. Honestly, the motivation to go was rarely there when I’d take the first step out the door. (Key to success 3: Determination is a greater force than motivation. Motivation is fleeting. Determination is what you have to commit to.)

Throughout the training program I had so many days that I’d read what that day’s workout entailed and be overwhelmed with self-doubt. I literally had to be my own hype man to even start. And every time one of those days came around and I finished the workout, I’d cry during my cool down. Because I did it. I pushed through how hard it was, how much my legs hurt, how hot and humid or cold and windy it was. AND I FINISHED. (Key to success 4: BELIEVE that you are more capable than you can imagine. Quiet the self-doubt and DO THE THING.)

The last 2 weeks have been challenging training wise. We’ve traveled 3 weekends in a row. Texas is being Texas and we’ve had all 4 season cycle through multiple times. I haven’t been able to stay on my training schedule like I wanted. As today approached I felt less & less prepared. Less and less capable. That self-doubt made its big entrance to my mind and almost won.

Y’all, yesterday I was using not having proper cold weather running clothes as the reason I shouldn’t run today. Wouldn’t you know that even our small town has multiple retailers that sell such things? And even had them on clearance! There went that excuse. By last night, I was so consumed by self-doubt that I was certain I wouldn’t run today. Would I even be able to finish? What if I finished dead last? What if my time was really bad? What if this was really too hard for me? Then I saw this and cried.

I was brave enough to start. Was I brave enough to be bad at it, but still finish it? (Key to success 5: The process is where the learning happens. The commitment to the thing is what’s important. Being good at the new thing right away isn’t the goal. Sticking with it long enough to not be bad is the goal.) Reading that, coupled with Payne telling me he was meeting me out there to support me got me to bed with a little more courage. (Side note: Remember earlier when I said we had that rare Saturday with nothing on the schedule, so this was the perfect date? That unicorn disappeared quickly. Addison’s soccer team finished the regular season in 1st place. Her first playoff game? The exact same date & time as my 5k. I told Chad if he showed up for me, I’d walk right off that course and drive to her game. Because both of us needed to do the thing today. And she needed one of her people there for her.)

This morning that self-doubt was well rested enough to wake up with me and almost paralyze me. I hadn’t told but 6 people I was training for this. And 3 of those share a house with me. I knew how many times I’d started something, talked all about it then didn’t finish. I just needed this one to be me fighting me to get to the end. And a few runners who just get this crazy thing to really get my struggles & help me through the hard stuff. Even as I was driving to Mount Wesley this morning, I was tempted to turn around. A couple of quick texts to Kendra and Paige, and the last bit of encouragement I needed kept my car pointed the right direction. (Key to success 6: Find your people. For me, this time, it was the 3 in my house, one that was training for the same event, and 2 that are seasoned runners. Your people want to cheer you to success. And they can handle your self-doubt and whatever things threaten to derail you. And they can talk you off the ledge when you’re ready to quit.)

Even as I lined up this morning, I questioned myself. But that determination took over. And I did it. It was hard. It was stupid cold. It definitely wasn’t pretty. It was slower than I’d hoped it would be. But thanks to Spencer running alongside me, I finished. Thanks to Payne & Kendra finding us along the way to cheer, we finished. I didn’t just start, I finished.

And this one standing at the finish cheering me on? It was a full circle moment. I cried…of course I did. (I also made it to the second half of the soccer playoff game to watch Addi advance to next week’s championship game!)

Friends, let me tell you this. You can do the thing. Just start. Set goals. Make your determination big enough to compensate for lack of motivation. Believe in you. Be your own hype man. Because other people encouraging you can only go so far if you don’t believe what you’re hearing. Find your people. They might be different for every thing that you do. But find them. They’ll be just as determined for you as you are for yourself. Let go of doing it “right” or perfectly or even well while you’re learning and just do the thing. JUST DO THE THING.

If I can train for and compete in a 5k at not-29-years-old, you can do your thing. Y O U C A N D O T H E T H I N G!

3 Replies to “Bad at something new”

  1. Oh my gosh we’re on such similar journeys. I’ve been doing the same thing since this summer when Neal started summer workouts for XC. And there are always reasons I can find for just stopping. But I completed a virtual race a couple of months ago and I’m in the middle of another now. I’m looking at joining up with some other friends to do the big Hot Chocolate 5K here in the ATL in February.

    Proud of you for both doing and sharing about doing. Keep it up!


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