I am convinced that one way to become a better runner is to have people in your life who believe that you are nothing short of a superstar. You need people whose expectations of you are sometimes far greater than your own. Here’s why.
My boyfriend and I recently went on a two-week, ultra-light backpacking adventure through Utah. We decided that we would bring nearly nothing with us, which clearly had its pros and cons. First of all, we wouldn’t be weighed down by cumbersome packs as we trekked 50 miles across Zion National Park, which was clearly a big perk. On the other hand though, we had no sleeping bags, no rain gear, and only one change of clothes. For the first two days, I was still convinced that we had done a wonderful job of packing. Heck, who needs rain gear and sleeping bags when it is a toasty 85 degrees? But then…the third day came. Sixteen miles into our hike, the ominous clouds that had been following us for hours finally let loose, and there we were, standing under a pine, soaking wet. The rain came down in sheets, pushing straight through the branches.
Raising My Expectations
If I had been alone, standing under that tree, I am positive that I would have plopped down in a pile of mud and cried until either the rain stopped or a ranger found me all curled up. Because, let’s face it, what other option did I really have? I was a mediocre athlete with no rain gear stuck in the middle of the wilderness. It wasn’t like I could run out of there…not me.
Luckily, though, I was not alone, so I didn’t plop down into the mud. Instead, when Kevin suggested that we just run the remaining miles to our campsite, I didn’t argue. We just started running, and we ran, and we ran.
I realized that Kevin had no doubt in his mind that I could run through buckets of rain, dodging lightning strikes and sliding down muddy trails. As it turned out, I could do all of those things. I had no idea. When Kevin darted up a soaking wet trail, so did I. There I was with a 20 lb pack strapped to my back running through Zion for miles, grinning as if I were out for a sunny morning jog. When we finally made it back to our campsite, I was cold, wet, and rather miserable, but man, was I proud.
I know that I am lucky to have so many people in my life who really, truly believe that I am a rock star. I am convinced that when you surround yourself with people who think you are unstoppable, sooner or later you will start to believe it too, and that’s when you really succeed. That’s when you run out of a rainstorm instead of sulking under a tree.
Find Your Support Group
Maybe that someone is an incredibly dedicated running buddy who you hit the trails with every single morning at 5 AM on the dot. Maybe (and perhaps a little more realistically) that someone is a friend who you run with once a week, someone who flies down the slippery hill because he knows you don’t need to walk, or someone who speeds up on the rocky incline because he’s convinced you’ve got “it” in you. Heck, that someone might just be an acquaintance who you simply chat about running with, someone who tells you to sign up for a 50-miler because he thinks you’re unstoppable. At the end of the day, what really matters is that you find someone (or even a group of someone’s) who has high expectations for you and believes in you enough for you to forget all the limitations and “cannot’s” that you have unknowingly placed on yourself because, guess what…you can.
Check out the photos from our Trans Zion Trek at https://samanthaleigh.smugmug.com/