I CAN IF I WANT TO!

Posted: Mar 12 2014

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled 'Yes I can”, prompted me to think about the people who compete in endurance events like Ironman or marathons. I consider myself an athlete. In fact I'm a lifetime athlete. But honestly there's nothing special about me. There's nothing that differentiates me from anybody else. Yes, I am fit, strong and healthy and I care about how I nourish my body, but this is just a lifestyle choice. I could just as easily choose to do otherwise. It’s a way of living that incorporates my entire being. When I wake up in the morning, I know that I will work out that day. If it’s not first thing in the morning, I plan where my work out will be in my day. It’s a priority, not at the expense of anything else, but as a necessity for my mental and physical well-being.

But I have to repeat that there is nothing special about me. There are days when the thought of running a mile makes me feel ill, or running up a short flight of stairs that leaves me gasping and breathless and makes me wonder how I could ever run a marathon.

Yes, a marathon, that brings back memories of how it all started… I remember when I took up running. I had never run more than a mile or two when my favorite uncle invited me to join a few friends on a six mile run. Six miles...’that’s crazy’ I thought. But the competitive spirit kicked in and I agreed to go. I almost died as I completed the six mile route, but I recall the elation and sense of accomplishment that I felt and was inspired to keep it up. A few months later they mentioned that they were doing a half-marathon. I could not imagine how, after a six mile run, I could possibly imagine running another six miles... and yet, mind over matter, I did it.

And then, the MARATHON word was raised. Once again, my mind balked at the thought of running two half marathons back to back. How could I manage the distance? I was exhausted after running only half. But the mind is an incredible thing. It will do whatever you will it to do. I learnt very quickly that endurance events are totally mind over matter. When I told myself that I was going to run a marathon, my mind listened and my body responded. When I woke up on the morning of my first marathon, of course I was scared, but my goal was embedded in my mind. I knew what I was going to do that day, and if I had to walk, or crawl, I knew that I would cover a 26.1 mile course.

And so, the title of this blog... is “I can if I want to!” You can do whatever you set your mind to. You just have to want it. And some people do not want to run a marathon, or compete in a triathlon. And that’s totally ok. It’s not for everybody. But if you have ever looked at those crazy people completing any kind of event and somewhere at the back of your mind was a little thought that said...” I would love to do that,” or “I wish I could do something like that,” or, I”I could never do that”, then know that you CAN... you just have to want to do it!

As I sat in the pre-race briefing before my Ironman race in Melbourne Australia this past week, I was amazed, impressed and inspired to learn that of the 2200 race competitors, over 800 were first time Ironman competitors. What an incredible number... 800 very special individuals who decided that they wanted to do this. All they said was ‘I can and I will!”

It may not be a marathon, it may not be an Ironman event. It may simply be a 5mile run, or a small sprint triathlon. All you need to say... is “I want to do this”... and I guarantee that you WILL!