Mindset and capacity
The ability to do anything well takes time and practice. The ability to sustain anything for longer and longer is about building the capacity to do so. The same goes for staying dedicated to an outcome amidst adversity. Willpower has limits but can be built just like a muscle. Emotions can be strenuous and challenging and expanding your emotional capacity is the same as anything else.
I used to run with a friend of mine. His name will be kept a secret to protect his identity but we ran… a lot!!!
At one time I wasn’t in that great of shape. (Yes, even worse than I am now.) I’d never done too much running and wasn’t sure how to approach it but I had settled into lethargy in my life and was somewhat depressed. One night in a group that I met with once a week I revealed this about my life and with support I committed to run for a specific length of time and a specific number of times within a certain time period. I didn’t commit to run a certain distance in the time I ran or to get my heart rate within some certain zone.
I think I committed to run three times in a two week period and I think I ran for thirty minutes each time. If anyone reading this was there that night and remembers feel free to correct me and call me out as a liar… maybe it was once for ten minutes in a month?!
Starting out it was pretty rough. Especially because this “friend” I ran with ran pretty well (I think he ran his best marathon in 2:36, FULL MARATHON) and could easily carry on a conversation while running at a pretty good clip but he was supportive and didn’t seem to judge me.
Next I think I committed to run twelve times in a one month period. I don’t remember the length of time I committed to run each time but I think it was about an hour. Again, no major worry about how far I ran or keeping my heart rate in a certain zone. I’m pretty sure I rewarded myself for pulling this commitment off by buying a heart rate monitor for myself or a snazzy outfit. Maybe both? After all, life is a fashion show?!
Over the course of the next twelve to eighteen months I ran more and more, I committed to run no matter what; rain, snow, hung over, no sleep, icy, depressed, angry, out of town, blazing hot, or you name it…
After about eighteen months or so I was running forty to fifty miles a week and in an hour I could run seven or eight miles. I’d often run thirteen to fifteen miles on Saturdays. I ran hill repeats, track workouts for pacing, sprints, and sometimes I’d run with a weight vest. Over the course of that time I think I also lost about thirty or forty pounds.
Way back before I started with whole endeavor I would have been completely overwhelmed to consider running fifteen miles at one time. I simply couldn’t even imagine that it was possible.
Running is great but being able to keep your shit together in times of high pressure is where the money is. Mine and any person’s ability to deal with their emotions takes time to build up the capacity to handle well. If I’d gone out to run fifteen miles from the start and only done that as a way to build my capacity I would have never gotten there. My body simply couldn’t handle it. Many systems needed to be brought up to speed, strengthened, and utilized. Your mind and spirit are the same way.
Pick something you want to do better; physically, emotionally, or spiritually. (Run a marathon, lose weight, keep your cool when you discipline your kid… or intimate partner, or sit still in silence with yourself in meditation.)
Seriously. Do it.
Look at the end goal and acknowledge your current capacity. With that in mind begin to formulate the pathway towards the goal and put together a plan of expansion that’s realistic but challenging. Commit to starting, stay committed to your plan, be tenacious, grow, expand, and persevere.
His name is Matt Kelly.