WHETHER WE REALIZE IT OR NOT, THERE IS A POWERFUL DRAW TO THIS RAW AND REAL SPORT OF OURS: THE OPPORTUNITY TO BREAK THE CHAINS.
LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE IN YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST APP
Heads up: Links on this page might be affiliate links. Well what the heck is that? It means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I would make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Yay for both of us!
Break the chains of low self esteem
I know how tough it is to make the mental switch from low self-esteem to empowered in the sport world, so I’m come to you twice per week to with interviews and messages of encouragement and tips to keep you moving forward. And because the world is full of noise, I hope that you come away feeling seen and having a bit of actionable advice to get you to take the next step in your athlete journey.
I definitely don’t know everything in this world, but I do know that our mental game as late adopters of the sport world is way harder to uplevel than anything physical we do!
Just last week, Episode 35: Who Said You Couldn’t? was a Five Minute Friday about the stories that we have told ourselves or have adopted after someone else told us what we couldn’t do.
I am so grateful for every single athlete who shared with me the messages that you have been toting around for entirely too long.
Many of us are carting around messages like,”I am clumsy, fat, uncoordinated, and slow.”
Once again, I saw you believing the story and not your experience.
Lies we tell ourselves
Like, you might run 3x/week because you love it, but you are still believing that you aren’t a runner.
It’s just something you do.
Or maybe you are pouring out your whole heart to your family day after day after day. BUt you are still calling yourself selfish in your quiet moments.
Everyone is athletic but you, yet you have been racing for years.
Girl, the medals on your wall tell a much different story than the one you are trapped believing.
And I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about it!
The story has stuck and your actions aren’t convincing you that it’s a fiction.
Love, you aren’t lazy or selfish, or impossible or any of the other words you have been trained to use about yourself.
What can i do about these stories?
So I have been sitting with all of this for a few days.
How much do I identify with this? How can I help even one person shift away from this self bullying, power limiting, false narrative and see herself as the athlete that she is.
I needed a big training day
Like most endurance athletes, I needed to escape into a training world to process everything I was hearing and try to figure out how we could start to break this down.
Do you do this? Sometimes the world just feels impossibly big and the only way to live in it is to move your body? Run, yoga, swim, garden, dance, clean…whatever it is. The thinking comes in the movement?
Yes, it’s because you’re an athlete. You were born this way.
This Sunday I had a big training day. It was my final day in the base phase of my training plan for the maybe-it-will, maybe-it-wont happen Ironman Florida in November. It was a 3-hour bike ride and an hour and a half run.
Just as I was about to head out the door for my run, a song that my daughters added to my running playlist came through my headphones.
Whatever it Takes by Imagine Dragons.
I’ve heard this song a hundred times. I Sing it with the girls. We used to dance around like goofballs in the really early morning hours while they got ready for summer swim meets.
Nobody wants to get up at 4:30 in the summer, so we overcome the need to roll back over by cranking up all the speakers in the house with our hype jams. This is one.
As I’m listening…
“Run me like a race horse. Pull me like a rip cord.”
And i tie my shoes.
“Break me down and build me up.”
I stop for a second. Wait…what?
You have my attention, song i’ve hear a bazillion times but apparently never really listened to.
‘Cause I love the adrenaline in my veins
I do whatever it takes
‘Cause I love how it feels when I break the chains”
And there it was.
‘Cause I love how it feels when I break the chains.
In that moment, it hit me. THAT is why we do this stuff. That, right there, is why we get up at 4:30. Why we layer up in the winter, and lube up in the summer.
It’s why we push for sprints, and settle in for long slow journey for endurance days.
It’s why when a running buddy says that they are going to vomit out on the road, we say, “Make it colorful!” and not, “Oh no! Should I call you a doctor?”
It’s why we can talk about porta potty problems with just-mets.
It’s why we lovingly lay out our running clothes like and race foods like an artist might gather her supplies.
It’s why we lick salt from our disgusting fingers and suck gu from messy pouches and take hot orange slices from a community bowl held by strangers and eat them like manna from heaven.
We are a different breed.
We do whatever it takes because we love how it feels when we break the chains.
I have used the excuses
For years, I haven’t had a very good answer about why I love endurance racing. Sometimes I blurt out a word salad that probably doesn’t mean much or even accurately describe the experience.
“It’s about freedom.”
“I like the built-in alone time.”
“Well, I started because I felt like I needed to lose weight and then I just never stopped.”
“Because I am a complete lunatic”
Or of course, “I don’t really know” with a nervous laugh.
But none of those things really explain why a busy woman would dedicate 5, 6, 10, 20 hours per week to endurance training when there isn’t any real tangible product at the end of the thing.
It’s an anti-capitalist endeavor. All kinds of hard work for no visible reward.
Like, I’m not going to win and feed my family with my earnings.
Nope. More likely, I’ll spend several hundreds of dollars to register and then more than that on gear and food and whatever else to get me to the starting line.
Certainly, a facebook post wouldn’t be worth this type of effort.
In five years of training and racing, my body hasn’t changed appearance all that much. In fact, it’s mostly the same plus more freckles and wrinkles from the kiss of the sun.
No. What gets us out there is the feeling of breaking the chains.
There is a certain type of woman who is really ready to go in on endurance racing at whatever distance.
And the women that I see that are out here on these streets day after day, putting in the work and having a hard time talking about it, after often my Dear Athletes that have long developed this capacity to suffer, from whatever life has brought them to and through.
Now you might be saying, “Woah there, Sal. Too intense.”
And I hear you on that. I really really do.
But there is a reason why athletes use that word all the time like a badge of honor.
“Oh that race? It was a sufferfest.”
Even Pirete, a national champion in her sport said back in her interview in episode 10, “Just suffer suffer suffer suffer.”
Yeah, we say it a little flippantly, but it came from somewhere. I think that we have found a way to sand down the edges of what we all know we are doing out there, to make it like an acceptable open secret to talk about in polite company.
we like to get real
Because when we are out there, doing the work, we are really allowing ourselves to explore all of those feelings in a raw and vulnerable way that we just can’t when we are living in the comfort of our air conditioned spaces with our carefully crafted public personas.
Even with the people we love the most, we have a way in our day to day life. We have settled on our personality and it’s a likely a safe zone.
Not on race day or training days. There, you can’t bluff. What you have and what you are made of is laid BARE.
And sometimes, that means that we are suffering.
It’s real and it’s raw.
Does it stand the test?
And in that naked reality, we can see, when we allow ourselves, that whatever the story is that we have been told about ourselves…does it stand the fire or does the burn right to ash.
Is it real or is what I am actually physically doing, the person that I am right now and my most exposed, is it something different than what I have been sold?
And those stories, tied together into chains that have been shackled to your wrists and ankles and heart and tongue…
And we “Love how it feels when I break the chains.”
BREAK ME DOWN & BUILD ME UP
I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite race days have been the ones where I just decided that the hay was in the barn. I showed up to the starting line the person that months of training had made me, and now I was there to party.
These are the races where I focused way less on my watch and way WAY more on the people swimming in the current with me or running down the street together. And even more so, on the spectators along the side of the road.
These people who have come to cheer on their loved one or volunteer with their local group to hand out water, or to dress up like hippies and dance and clap and bang a drum to form a soundtrack for your celebration.
These people who line up to bear witness to these new people, different from the folks who had hit a register button months before, stepping out as who they are now. Showing themselves to unlimited numbers of strangers. A parade of new life. Graduation day for this new life. These people, they have come to be people lifters.
Do you have moments where one of these people made eye contact with you at a vulnerable time on the course and it felt like they literally just traded you your spent breath for their fresh air?
I do. Man, do I.
signs & keys can break the chains
During my first marathon, the Walt Disney World marathon in 2015, I was in about the 23rd mile, running through down the path that connects Disney’s BoardWalk Inn to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
I was tired. It had been raining off and on since about the Wide World of Sports complex. I hadn’t seen my family since they surprised me outside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.
I was ready for this one to be done, but not quite close enough to believe I was almost there. I was becoming more and more comfortable with the idea that I was about to finish this thing and stroke a giant check mark next to this dream of mine.
In that section just before the Community Hall building, there was this man standing all alone, holding a standard race sign, the white poster board with something funny on it.
Except his said something that I had never seen before. It wasn’t funny.
It said, “There will be a day when you cannot do this. Today is not that day.”
I lost it.
So much that I believed crumbled
A lifetime of believing that I wasn’t an athlete. That my body wasn’t strong. That I was weak. I definitely wasn’t a runner. People would think of me as their smart friend, or their lazy friend. Maybe their disorganized friend. Never as their athlete friend. Never ever as a runner friend.
Today was not that day. Today, I was about to become their marathoner friend.
I am not exagerating when I tell you that I wept from that sign through the finish line.
It was a key
His sign had words, but it might as well have been a giant drawing of a key. Maybe one like Lady Tremaine used to lock the door to the attic where she trapped Cinderella to keep her from going to the ball and living the life she was meant to live.
The one in the castle with prince charming.
It would be far more comfortable to keep her shackled, believing that she was meant for the attic and the kitchen and the servant quarters and not the palace and the gardens.
Because there are going to be people in your life who are more comfortable with the shackled version of you.
That’s where the stories come from you that keep you down.
But what if, in all the breaking down that you do while training, you give yourself space to be built back up by the people lifters.
You just have to have your eyes open for them. You have to let them in.
Maybe some of us are out there, breaking down but closing off before the building up. And the chains remain, clamped down even tighter.
I WANNA BE INVISIBLE
Just when I think this song couldn’t get more on the nose, it continues.
“Looking at my body miserable.
Always hanging on to the visual
I wanna be invisible.”
Maybe this is where you are right now. Maybe it’s the reason that you are even interested in starting down this sports life.
Someone told you running would help you lose weight and somehow you could run a few miles and morph your perfectly beautiful body from the one that brought you this far in life into something you see on tv.
The impossible standard.
If where you are right now is fully shackled to the chains of the stories told about who you are and what you can accomplish and depserate to be invisible, then it won’t be long before you are doing a great job of the breaking down and a piss-poor job of the building up.
If you resist allowing yourself to be seen, you remove the opportunity of the people lifters to swoop in from the sidelines. They can’t hold up the mirror to can see for yourself who you have become.
The mirror that breaks the chains.
The reason we do this.
Because we love how it feels when we break the chains.
So this is my challenge for you this week:
It’s a visualization exercise followed by some movement.
If you haven’t yet, take a few quiet moments to think about the stories that you have accepted for yourself as truth about who you are. About your abilities. About your value.
Feel free to share them with me if you want to talk them through with someone. Sometimes it just feels better to say something into the universe, and maybe the people closest to us just aren’t ready for that kind of talk right now.
Then I want to you imagine those stories holding you down, literally keeping you back. Shackled. Locked up.
Now visualize those chains crumbling to dust, each link a lie or harsh word or swung fist or bad lighting in your past. All uncoupling from the next and falling away into nothing.
And you rise.
Now do the work.
Maybe today you go for a walk around the block. If it feels good, commit to doing it four more times in the next week.
Or if a mile is your style, hit it.
Or dance. Or run double digits. Or ride your back. Or paddle your board. Or climb the stairs…or whatever way feels best about moving your body to the point of at least a little discomfort.
And see how you feel about it.
Because you love how it feels when you break the chains.
I appreciate every single minute that you spend with me in your ears. If this show is helpful to you, there are a few things that you can do to support it that would all mean so much to me.
You could leave a quick review on whatever app you listen on.
You should share it with you friends and family. I know it’s confusing about how to share a podcast since people listen on all different apps. The best way is just to go to the website, FindingFinishLines.com/Podcast and share from there. Then people can pick their player of choice and download and subscribe.
Or you could even go to FindingFinishLines.com/survey to answer a few questions about how you found the show and what you like and don’t like so I can tailor future episodes to what you actually want, rather than whatever is speaking to me at the movement!
Any of those things are more helpful to me and the growth of this show that I can easily say. So thank you for your support.
If you haven’t already, please let me support you! Come join our closed Facebook page at We Are Finding Finish Lines and introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you!
Until next time, carry on woman of valor.