Use Your Fitness. Embrace Adversity.

Earlier today I joined about a dozen and a half members of our gym to run the Ollis 5k in New Dorp. It was hot, and I have to admit I didn’t do very well. I started off fine, and then around a mile in I started feeling tightness in my right shin/calf areas. This soon spread to my left leg. I tried to fight through it, but had to stop to stretch because the cramps got really bad. I walked for about a half mile trying to make it go away, andit took every bit of mental fortitude I could muster to not turn off on New Dorp Lane and quit. I was able to finish, and the last three quarters of a mile was my best running of the day. The 20 pound vest I wore definitely contributed to my difficulties, and I didn’t warm up properly. But, no excuses. It wasn’t my day. Some might say it wasn’t my day because there were no barbells involved in the race, but that’s a different discussion.

It got me thinking how great it is to be able to use my fitness, even on a day that for me was objectively not a good one. I didn’t perform close to how I should have. We spend so much time in the gym getting fit, it is important to go out and use it!  This means that if we see a race like today’s we want to run, we can do it without much stress or concern. It means that if our friends ask us to play football or basketball with them we can participate. It means if our kids want us to chase them around that we can and won’t get out of breath. How great is that? Can you remember a time when these things were hard to do?

None of us are elite professional athletes. That’s ok. I’ve come to grips with it. Despite the fact that we aren’t “elite,” believe it or not, all of us are probably fitter than 99% of the general population. Most don’t workout out nearly enough, and many have a gym membership that they hardly ever use besides a few low intensity weekly trips on a treadmill. For those who don’t do what we do in the gym every day, running a 5k can be a daunting prospect. They aren’t used to the activity, and they aren’t used to adversity. I had moments of self-doubt today. As I watched people pass me and I simply couldn’t perform like I knew I could, I felt self-conscious. I was dealing with adversity, and although I was having physical problems I believe it was mostly mental. I didn’t want to start running again because I feared I would start cramping again.

Each time you come to the gym you are getting physically fitter; but more importantly, you are learning how to overcome adversity, both physical and mental, so when difficult situations happen you can fight through and succeed. I consider today a success because I finished despite the difficulty and adversity.

Use this summer to go out and enjoy the fitness you are building. Enjoy your ability to fight through adversity. Do something that challenges you, and even scares you a little.  Embrace the difficulties. Embrace the challenges. Embrace the process. Have fun, and enjoythe options you have because of the fitness lifestyle you have embraced.