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All too often I hear people tell me what they can’t do. “I can’t bike that far” or “I can’t run that fast” or “I can’t find time to exercise”. You can’t? That’s quite a sweeping self-defeating declaration. Perhaps you may not be able to do it today, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t do it in the future.
I recently read a biography about Matt Long, the NYPD firefighter who was hit by a city bus while riding his bike. Not just hit, but run over & trapped underneath the bus in such a manner that Matt and his bike became one - literally. Being an accomplished Ironman triathlete and Boston Marathon qualified runner, Matt’s life was spared due to his extremely fit heart. But it wasn’t the physical strength of his heart that I was impressed with so much as his spiritual heart. Despite numerous surgeries, being confined to a wheelchair, and being told he would never walk again let alone run, Matt persevered through the most grueling self-imposed rehabilitation. He went on to complete both the Lake Placid Ironman and the NYC Marathon just 3 years after his accident.
And Matt is just one example of many who have overcome horrific obstacles to accomplish amazing physical feats. A friend of mine right here in our neck of the woods suffered a very similar accident while riding his bike in Juanita. Less than 6 months later he was back in spinning class and has his sights set on both IMC and the NYC Marathon this year. Oh yah, and he’s in his early 60’s.
So with all of this in mind, I ask the question again… you can’t? Really?
The fact is, you can accomplish any athletic goal if you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard (really really hard in some cases) for it. Just ask Sarah Reinhardt, the first above the knee amputee who missed the bike cut off in Kona by 15 minutes but came back the next year to conquer that same ride & go on to finish the 140.6 mile race. Or Dick Hoyt who pulls, pushes, and carries his 140lb quadriplegic son through events of all nature including a 3735 mile Trek across America that took 45 days. Or perhaps every cyclist’s biggest hero, Lance Armstrong, who defied all the odds to become a seven-time Tour De France winner. While they all may seem super human, they aren’t. They are simply driven to achieve more. More than anyone thought possible in some cases… well, everyone except the athlete doing it.
Now it’s your turn. What can you do? Not what can you do right now, but what can you do six months from now? Hopefully you’re planning on doing an athletic event! The first step to success is getting rid of the negative self-fulfilling prophecy convictions you make verbally and non-verbally every day. I had a friend who wore a rubber band around his wrist and every time he had a negative thought, he’d give the band a little snap. No, he wasn’t a masochist, it just made him more aware of the number of negative thoughts he had in a day, which was alarmingly high. But by raising his awareness he could immediately replace that thought with a positive one.
The next step is to set one or two long term goals. Sign up for a distance that’s longer than you’ve ever done before or set a personal best time goal this year. Whatever the goal, make it challenging. Then start working towards that goal today! Join a training group or club. There are so many options now for athletes in all sports and of all levels from newbies to elites, as well as specialty groups such as women's only and masters. If the weather doesn't permit outdoor training, take it indoors. Don't wait! Surround yourself with supportive training partners, friends, and family. Better yet, enlist them to join you in your adventure!
Now is the time to set your goal and commit yourself wholeheartedly! When in doubt, remember the famous quote from Henry Ford, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”