When I’m in the middle of a tough run at the gym and feel like I can’t possibly go one speed faster or half a grade higher, I think to myself: “You climbed an f-ing mountain, Courtney. Pull it together.”
Instantly memories of sheer inclines and raw, painful blisters flood my mind, and I easily push myself a little farther, a little faster, a little higher. But recalling the difficulties isn’t what impels me. What keeps me going is the remembered feeling of accomplishment that I got from reaching the top, knowing that everything-good or bad-leading up to that point happened for a reason. My views of the world, of my life, of life in general, were permanently altered by what it took to reach that summit. Pushing myself to my own personal limit and not giving up on the goal that I have in mind at the gym gives me a brief opportunity to collide with what I felt on that morning. That’s what moves me-literally and figuratively-from the inside out.
All that for a couple of sweaty miles on a treadmill. :)
Sometimes I’ll watch people and wonder what drives them. Most of us are so private with our true thoughts and inspirations, failing to reveal them even when prompted. Every so often, however, you’ll come across someone who lays it all out on the line-seemingly without much regard for typical social protocol. My new friend, Jamie, just so happens to be one of those people.
One day a couple of weeks ago, I had just finished a tough run and was heading over to the free weights. My music was turned up to the max; I was exhausted and completely lost in my own world. Suddenly from the corner of my eye, I saw a hand waving at me frantically. A large, middle-aged man who had been jogging on the treadmill a couple down from mine was saying something that I couldn’t hear. I reluctantly pulled out an earphone and heard him asking how far I had run; I told him a little over three miles. Instead of the praise that I suppose I was expecting, a gleeful look instantly crossed his face as he pointed at his own mile counter, practically bursting with excitement: he was beating me! I couldn’t help but get caught up in his enthusiasm and burst out laughing. That was the start of our unconventional friendship. Since that day, every time I see him he silently competes with me. Even if we’re on treadmills located in different parts of the gym, he’ll wave at me as I begin and then hold up his fingers to show his mileage when one or both of us finishes. Yesterday after running I headed to the elliptical for a cool-down. Jamie quickly made his way over to confirm that I hadn’t run farther than he had and then proceeded to flex his leg muscles, showing me how defined they were getting. I complimented him appropriately and he smiled as he walked away, leaving me to exist in joyful defeat.
Even though it’s a one-sided competition, every time I see Jamie on the treadmill a row over pushing himself to beat me, it makes me want to challenge myself to match his ambition. If we strive every day to be better than we were yesterday, it’s inevitable that we’ll reach the feeling of our own personal summit eventually. You may never know who you’re motivating just by being you. To me, that’s a pretty good reason to keep re-climbing mountains.