I love to run.  I know it’s kind of an odd thing to “love” but I’ve found that it’s something I truly enjoy.  I love putting in my ear buds and listening to the same familiar songs every time.  I love the time I get to think about things that matter, things that don’t matter, things that could matter, and things that are none of my business.  I love the feel of the pavement under my feet, putting three, five, or even eight miles under my trusty old shoes and adding up my weekly total.  I even love the overall soreness that comes from working hard.   Sore legs, sore feet, sore toes.  It reassures me that I’ve pushed myself to the limit, forced myself out of my comfort zone, expanded my preconceived limitations. 

Last year I trained during the winter for the Indy Mini, a 13.1 mile mini-marathon around Indianapolis.  I’m not sure how many miles I ran total from January through April, but I learned something crucial in those training months- your body will do whatever your mind tells it to do.  That sounds over-simplified, but in my case, being healthy and without injury, conquering the “can’t” in my head was 90% of the battle.  If I was planning a ten or twelve mile run during the week, it was just as important, if not more so, to talk myself into running those distances as it was to eat right and get enough rest.    If at 9.5 miles I started losing steam, it wasn’t because my body was incapable of running the last half mile or so, it was because somewhere along the way I had given in to a mental block, I had been convinced by “can’t”.

Sometimes I’m a coward.  Pushing my limits and charting new territory can be extremely intimidating.  I’m sure we all have our moments of unparalleled cowardice.  Maybe it’s meeting new people, or taking a new class.  Maybe it’s driving in big cities, looking down from tall buildings, speaking in front of small groups, breaking an old tradition.  Even if it’s something trivial, like making the switch from a basic cell phone to a tricked out smart phone (yes, that’s something I really can’t get up the courage to do yet), fear can keep us from being innovative thinkers who seize the day and remain ever on the cutting edge.  And where does that leave us?  We may not be sore from having expanded our limitations, but neither are we thrilled to get out of bed, go in to work, put on our running shoes, and change the world.  Sometimes a little fear can be greatly motivating and even more satisfying when we feel like we’ve conquered that fear.  And though FDR assured us that, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” I’m convinced that the fear of “can’t” trumps all other fears.

So, what “can’t” is keeping you down?  I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to run a half-marathon or go out and buy a smartphone, but I am encouraging each of you to reevaluate what it is you’re really afraid of.  This week, I’m challenging each of you to do something that would generally fall under the “can’t” heading on your life’s to-do list.  It doesn’t have to be a major life commitment, just something you’ve been avoiding under the guise of “can’t”.    Maybe you’ll end up with sore feet or sore toes, but the satisfaction of marking it off your “can’t” list will definitely surpass any discomfort.  Ready, set, go.

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