When I was trying to think of a title for this post I was reminded of a book called, “The Courage to Start”, by John Bingham, which is all about taking the first steps to run. Many people talk themselves out of participating in physical activity because they don’t feel like they’re good enough (or various other reasons) to start.
It contains the quote, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start”.
This quote has strongly resonated with me on different levels. Firstly, we’re all too quick to the act of self deprecation where it’s not necessary. Secondly, it’s hard to “come back” to a level that’s not pre injury. Finally, summoning up the courage to start something that is essentially unfamiliar terrority is a miracle. Finishing it, as John Bingham suggests, is the icing on the cake.
This past week in terms of training, has been a successful one – I taught five classes, did a strength training session and had a great ride with Mel out to Nudgee and back. Today I saw the physio, who thinks things are progressing well.
Unfortunately the weather has been chilly and windy and more conducive to snuggling up in bed with a good book than riding a bike. Undeterred, I decided to use Mel’s trick of organizing other people to ride with and soon I hooked up with two other ladies from the Facebook page, “Brisbane Chicks Who Ride Bikes” for my river loop today. Riding in inclement conditions with others makes for a good laugh and shared experience as we groaned at the hideous headwinds and celebrated the tailwinds.
I also used a bit of leveraging to get myself to the Uni Pool to (finally!) do some swimming. I joined the UQ Adult swim squad and have been procrastinating about getting into an outdoor pool (even though it is heated) in winter. I even posted within their Facebook group asking how they managed to prise themselves out of bed for a 5.30am session. I got some very welcoming responses and as I sat in the car park today pondering the gale force winds and whether I should be even attempting a swim session, I realised that I just needed the courage to start. I decided to pick a lunchtime session and was amazed to see many fit looking men and women descend on the pool to train – and boy, did they look fit!
“How long is a session?” I squeaked to a fit looking woman next to me.
“Oh 2-3km,” she said casually. I tried not to look too panic stricken as the longest distance I have covered post surgery was 750m.
We warmed up. I swam very slowly, not knowing whether to feel amused or terrified that the warm up was 800m. Then it was into the main body of the workout, or “set” as Mark, the coach, called it. I was surprised that 800m flew by without too much trouble and that “Mr T” wasn’t complaining too much. In “ham-on-the-bone” speak, it was a champagne moment, pardon the pun. I had to take some breaks during the main set, but I completed about 85% of the session. Mark and the other swimmers were very encouraging and as a rank novice, I was extremely grateful for their kindness and for them making me feel like I was the only one in the squad at times.
I must admit to feeling like a complete rock star that I participated in the session and am lining up again for Friday lunchtime.
As a coach, sometimes it is all too easy to forget the nervousness of how people feel when they’re starting an unfamiliar activity. Being coached in today’s swimming squad was a good reminder for me today of Maya Angelou’s lesson, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”