One of the questions I am most often asked by athletes is “Do you really think I can do this?” When I hear this question, I always start to smile. Generally, the athlete asking this question is in generally good health, and has been working out somewhat regularly, or has started working out recently. They come to me, nervous about what lies before them, and want reassurance that they are not crazy for whatever event they have committed themselves to. They seem to think, because I’ve done two full Ironman races, that it all comes naturally to me. But that’s not the case at all. I had to work hard to get to this point in my life, but one important thing I learned along my journey was to never give up on yourself, and to continue to push your limits.
We all have our comfort zones. In my past my comfort zone was limited to cigarettes and food. I finally expanded my comfort zone and stepped away from smoking and eating too much, and into exercise. Then it grew to include triathlons, marathons, and open water swimming.
But getting there wasn’t easy, and a little bit scary. It’s hard to try something new to you, to learn something new, and that fear of failure creeps in. I remember watching the spin class at the gym, too intimidated to go join them. I’d wait until the class left and I’d cycle alone. I did that for a year before taking a real class. Then I realized I wasted a lot of time worrying about what others would think, when I could have been joining in the fun. I learned that sometimes you have to be brave, to take that first step, to realize that you are capable of more than you can imagine if you only try.
So I think back when an athlete asks “can I really do this?” and I smile. Remembering all I went through, people calling me crazy, and still pushing beyond that and realizing my dreams. These negative people tried to make me give up on my goals, just because they wouldn’t try to step out of their own small comfort zones. So they attacked my expanding comfort zone instead.
But now I’m in a position to help and encourage others, and I do everything I can to help athletes take that big first step. I remember how hard that first step was for me, how terrifying and scary, and my hope is to make it easier for others to take that leap of faith and believe in themselves.
So when they ask me, “Can I really do this?” I smile. I smile at them and confidently look them in the eye and say “The answer is yes….you can do this.” And suddenly, they’re smiling too, because deep down inside them, they know they can.
They have started to believe in themselves.
Live healthy, be happy!