It has been almost 20 years since I first stepped on to a running track with the intent of it becoming what I do regularly. That decision then became a discipline. That discipline is now character, pretty much inescapably!
When I first stepped on a running track with my good friend Kemuel, I remember getting there ages before anyone else and, all of a sudden, having no idea what to do. All we knew is that we needed to look sexy for summer. Come what may, there had to be pride in removing the shirt for Notting Hill Carnival later that year!
As life took us in separate paths of responsibility (But never severed our friendship!), I found myself turning up to the track on a Tuesday and Thursday evening on my own. It took a while to hit me but I realised that, for me to routinely be turning up, there must be something about it that I loved. Without me even knowing it, I’d stumbled across my passion. A passion so deep that I’d find myself at a running track or doing something running related for the next 20 years. All over the world, on deployments, in any weather, on my own and in groups, one of the better athletes in the group and one of the beginners. The circumstance didn’t matter. “Just lemme run!”
My point here should be the foundation of your health and fitness life: “IT CAN’T JUST BE WHAT YOU DO. IT HAS TO BE WHO YOU ARE.” In order for it to become who you are, you have to make the decision and carry out the discipline to stick with that decision when the tough time comes and when the novelty wears off. Because those times come to EVERYBODY. Even fit-freaks struggle!
**A quick digression! This is a good mantra to take into every aspect of your life. You see, if you take this into your job, you’ll never waste time and effort when you are there. Productivity will make you happy and, once you see that it isn’t your passion, the decision to leave and work a career path that is your passion will be easy and straight forward. Parenting will be fulfilling (Anyone giving the side-eye here clearly doesn’t have children or has programmable robots for offspring. Parenting can feel like a burden at times. This is normal!). Basically, as aforementioned, TIME and EFFORT become utilised and waste is kept to a minimum.**
Before I began competing in track and field, training was optional. Poor weather meant I’d need to stay home and pull out the Nintendo or Sega consoles. If it had been a long day and the 20 minutes walk to the stadium felt like it was too much, I’d justify it somehow. “OK. I’ll start again on Monday.” or, “It’s been a tough week. A day off won’t hurt.” Even, “Abs are looking tight still. Let me kick back and chill!”
Then I had my first competition…
You know, there is something about giving your all, getting absolutely battered in a race and then dealing with the guilt of it being your own fault.
I finished last in my first 100m competition and 4th in my first 200m competition. Then I was passed in the home straight of the 4x400m relay as I blew clean out of steam. Even fit-freaks struggle!
Failure to perform, based off half-assed dedication and focus, has a dual facet of consequence. THEY know and YOU know! They know you’ve not performed as you should have and you know that you didn’t prepare as you should have, ON TOP of knowing that they know too.
Even fit-freaks struggle…
I walked away from my first competition realising talent can only get you so far. I became a fit-freak!
That’s not to say I made all the right decisions onwards of that day. That isn’t to say that I was 100% focused 100% of the time. What it says, though, is ‘fit-freak’ became my standard and that’s my encouragement to you…
‘Fit-freak’ isn’t just an adjective, it’s a standard. You’ll never break through until it becomes your standard.
I have days that I just don’t want to and, honestly, there are days I don’t follow through. At the base of things we are all human. What separates me and you from others, though, is that ‘fit-freak’ isn’t just an adjective to describe us and ‘fitness’ isn’t just a verb to us. It’s what we are!