Author: Scott Smith
I believe that it is important I preface this tale with a statement about my past. I hate being associated with the word “quitter” but I can not deny my past failures to see certain things through. Some of these defeats were minor and some were life altering. What it often comes down to is this: You rarely FEEL like doing the things you NEED to do in order to get what you REALLY WANT.
Fortunately, I still have time to finish strong and I’ve already collected a host of triumphant stories to focus on. Yesterday, I had a very typical moment during a workout that I’m going to highlight. Although relatively low on my list of life’s achievements, it represents a microcosm of the battle to overcome discomfort in the pursuit of a greater purpose. A better life. This is one of those triumphant stories…
So there I was, plodding along again on the hamster wheel. Putting in the time so I could check “cardio” off my to-do list for the day. About as uninspired and hungover as I had felt in awhile. Literally, I was going through the motions. And on that day it felt like a victory over the alternative of doing nothing.
It didn’t particularly help that I was listening to some downer material on my iPod either. For this particular workout my goal was to increase my running speed every five minutes for a total of twenty minutes. After making the progressive adjustment for the third and final time, I had reached an 8.5 mph stride by the fifteen minute marker. That’s when I hit the proverbial wall. I was gassed. My chest was on fire and my legs felt like logs. I remember telling myself that there was no way I could finish out the final five minutes at this speed.
At that moment the music switched over. The band Atlas Genius’ upbeat song “Trojans” started pumping through the head phones and I came to life again.
The only reason I was even able to get to the gym that morning was the memory of how proactive and good it felt to accomplish a workout on a day that ALMOST got away. So I showed up. And NOW I was reminding myself of just how rewarding the feeling is to keep running when every signal in your brain is screaming at you to stop. So I turned the speed up to 9.
For five minutes I continued to ignore the lies and creeping negative thoughts. My heart spoke to me as if to affirm that my body was up for the test. And because of my memories of triumph and persistence despite adversity, I was able to trust in my heart. All the while, the fitting lyric “Trojans in my head” repeating over and over, a constant reminder of how we invite enemy forces to sneak into our own minds. For five minutes I created a new memory of perseverance.
Looking back on the seemingly insignificant experience of completing that one cardio workout it dawns on me that exercise is somewhat of a metaphor for life. And just like most things worth doing in life, any workout worth doing you will be met with resistance of substantial magnitude. It doesn’t even take a barbell to create this load either. Hell, even getting to the gym in the first place is often heavy resistance.
But with each seemingly insignificant victory we can create a significant life. Each time we decide not to give up and turn around we are creating a new memory of success. These memories create a HUGE library of actions that define us. And these memories can be accessed ANY time we need the inspiration to perpetuate more action, thus building the library and creating even MORE positive memories to pull from.
Tomorrow, I don’t know what kind of mood I will gravitate toward. I may be excited to tackle my next challenge or I may be depressed about the “slow” progress I’m making. But next time I sense the presence of “Trojans in my head,” I will choose to remember how and why I regularly include exercise in my life: to practice not giving up.