It's OK To Be a Beginner

My very first 5K a few years ago

My very first 5K a few years ago

I've never really been afraid to be a beginner.  I love to learn, and am always up for trying new things.  Sometimes, when I try new things I catch on pretty quickly and move up to intermediate or advanced in no time.  And sometimes I struggle from day one.  I've realized that there are some things in life that no matter how hard I try, I will always be a beginner.   Take my fitness journey for example:

My history with fitness and exercise is short and sweet.  In high school, I devoted about a week to jogging around my neighborhood until I realized it's not as easy as those track stars make it look.  Aside from that, the extent of my physical activity growing up was marching with my clarinet in the high school marching band.  Needless to say, I've never really been in peak physical condition.

I've tried to rectify this situation over the last several years.  I've been jogging (sort-of regularly) and I'm pretty darn proud to say that I've gotten to a point where I can run 3.1 miles without stopping.  Of course, I use the term "run" loosely here.  Dan and my coach Jeannie can both walk at a leisurely pace while I "run" alongside them wheezing and gasping for air.  But whatever.  I'm out there giving it my all, and that's what matters.

There I am on the right running in a race

There I am on the right running in a race

Me and my Fleet Feet running coach, Jeannie

Me and my Fleet Feet running coach, Jeannie

The bottom line is that I am not a great runner and never will be.  But that's ok.  Even though the running itself is torture, I LOVE that I get to hang out with my running buddies Carla and Kenzie every week, I love my Fleet Feet running group friends, I love being outside and experiencing nature, and I love the fact that I can eat just a little bit more since I'm burning the extra calories.  

Me with Erin, Carla, and Kenzie at a race a few weeks ago

Me with Erin, Carla, and Kenzie at a race a few weeks ago

Dan and I have also started working out at the gym.  We stumbled across the most awesome little gym called Frankie's Body Shop one morning while we were stuffing our faces at a breakfast restaurant next door.  A few days later, we toured this gem of a place, met Frankie and his wife, and signed up immediately.  We're doing the whole 9 yards:  personal trainer, nutrition, power bars, electrolyte replacements, you name it.  We're all in.  

Dan and I after a workout with Reed at Frankie's Body Shop

Dan and I after a workout with Reed at Frankie's Body Shop

One day, a few weeks into our new adventure, I was feeling pretty bad-ass as I did something similar to a bench press.  Our trainer Reed is awesome, we just show up and he plans out the routines, selects the proper weights, shows us what to do, and kicks our asses.  So, I got into position on the bench, and Reed handed me the barbell.  I was giving it my all, exhaling really loudly like I'd see others around me doing. I had laser-like focus on the task at hand. I looked over at Dan on the bench beside me to see if he noticed how amazing I was and that's when I noticed something was off.  I noticed that he had huge weights on the ends of his bar.  I looked back at mine and realized I was giving it all I had and there weren't even any weights on my bar!!!  This knocked the wind right out of my sails.  I went home, depressed and hungry.

But the next day, I witnessed a miracle.  I was reaching for my coffee cup when I saw it:  a MUSCLE.  A real, live, actual muscle on my arm.  Nothing major, of course, but I could SEE it!  I asked Dan if he noticed anything different about me.  He didn't.  I pointed to it triumphantly.  He squinted, leaned in closer, and shook his head.  "I'm pretty sure that's just a shadow" he teased.  Whatever.  I had seen it with my own eyes.  I earned that muscle and nobody can take that away from me.

I know lots of folks who simply won't do something if they're not good at it.  They're not willing to step too far out of their comfort zones.  They're afraid to fail or look like a fool.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for focusing on and developing your strengths and talents, but I also think there is something to be said for being willing to do some things that you're really bad at.  Let someone else be the expert.  Allow yourself to learn from them.  Allow yourself to be a beginner, and maybe fail miserably.  Or maybe not.

Sometimes, I wonder why I continue to do these things that I'm not great at.  I wonder why I keep jogging even though I curse every step.  I think maybe I should just ditch the whole thing and focus my time and energy on things that I'm good at.  But then I'll have a good day, and I'm hooked again.  I guess I'll always feel like a beginner when it comes to running.  But I do lots of things in life that I've excelled at more easily too.  I have a pretty good balance.  I want to keep learning and growing, and the only way that's gonna happen is if I continue to put myself out there and try new things - despite the possibility that I may fail.  I realize that if I had let my fears and my pride hold me back from allowing myself to be really bad at running and lifting weights, then I would never have ran my first 5K or developed these awesome (almost visible) biceps.

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

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