I was reminded of this the other night when I attended a gala for the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution -- cool mediators getting together and knocking back a few. Anyhoo... I was chatting with a few of the ladies about my "crazy" race schedule (which is decidedly normal for most endurance athletes) when two of them told me in fast-paced-high-pitched-oh-my-god-i-can't-wait-to-tell-you voices that they had just signed up for 8ks and they were getting ever faster -- which they said I had something to do with. See, they had started a running program a few months ago, and were running fairly consistent 12:30 miles. They were dejected, depressed, and totally convinced that they were somehow failing at running. Then I came along, and introduced them to the idea of "beginning" something.
As adults, we forget how to begin.
As kids, we were used to falling down, both literally and figuratively. We'd try stuff and stink at it. All the time. That's what beginners do. There are very few that start something and win right off the bat. Most beginners fall off, fall back, fall down... But at least beginners try.
As adults we kinda forget (or refuse) to try stuff that we think we'll suck at, just because it's painful for your heart and your head to fail at something. But running a 12:30 pace is not failing.
Not getting off the couch is failing.
I remember telling them about beginning, and how they should be patient, and have faith in themselves. That they should just get out there and enjoy, and move, and feel what it's like to let their bodies do what they're supposed to do -- and to feel what it's like to let their bodies (rather than their expectations and mental demands) tell them what is possible from day to day.
I remember that conversation, but was surprised that they remembered it, too. And I'm really flattered that they used that conversation as motivation over the past few months, taking heart in the fact that I, too, was a beginner not so very long ago.
I'm happy to report that these ladies are now running at 10:30 and faster pace. I'm sure they'll continue to get faster if that's what they want. But no matter how fast they end up going, they're winning.