Saturday, December 21, 2013

The BIG Box

During a conversation about short-term goals in early December, I shared with my friend/coach, Corey, that I wanted to get onto the BIG box in the next 30 days.  To clarify, I meant that I wanted to graduate to doing box jumps on the 30-inch box.  If you are not familiar, a box jump is an fairly frightening exercise where you stand in front of a tall box and in one swift, explosive movement try to jump high enough to propel yourself onto the top without destroying your shins and knees or face planting on the other side.  This is the BIG box...

For almost a year, I had been doing box jumps on the 24-inch box and while the extra 6 inches doesn't seem like much, the difference is vast when you're (don't laugh) 5'2" tall.  

True story.
Needless to say, I've never been much of a jumper (shocker) and the thought of missing that jump by just a fraction of an inch, sending me crashing into the box (and the resulting damage to my shins) was downright paralyzing.  No matter how pumped up I got about landing that jump, when I stood in front of that BIG box, my legs flat out ignored the signals my brain was sending telling them to jump.  And for the longest time, I was okay with that- I mean, jumping is not really my thing and if I screwed it up I could get hurt pretty badly.  I was content to say that I can't do a 30-inch box jump...but no more.  Even though it scared the crap out of me, I was ready to commit to making it happen and to be sure that I took that commitment seriously, I was going to give myself 30 days to get it done.

So Corey developed a plan that was intended to make me feel strong enough to- as he put it- "jump over the box".  If I didn't have so much faith in his skills (the man is a genius) I would have been more skeptical but I couldn't help but wonder how he was going to come up with a workout that would rid me of crippling fear?  How can you turn a scared, vertically-challenged non-jumper into a box jumping beast?  On December 12th, he unveiled a laundry list of exercises (I'm using the term "exercise" here very loosely) of varying degrees of complexity and with that "Project BIG Box" was launched.  Since then, my jumping parts have hated me.

Almost, every day I worked on that jump. I worked and I worked, repeating the same exercises over and over.  The more I did it, the more I began to understand that this wasn't about building leg strength and power; the true purpose of this process was to develop the confidence to know that I was already strong enough to make that leap.  I had to learn to get out of my own way.  Then this morning, a mere nine days after I started, I jumped onto the BIG box.  Apparently, I CAN do a 30-inch box jump, with ease as it turns out- I just sort of floated to the top, piece of cake. 

But this is not really about the BIG box.  The BIG box is a metaphor.  I've heard it a hundred times: "I'm not a...", "I can't...", "I don't..."  I too have been guilty of this, over the years spouting off such things as: "I'm not a runner", "I can't swim", "I'm not built to jump high", "I'm not a sprinter"...all B.S.

What's the REAL barrier?  As I found out, it's usually not ability- we're capable of so much more than we know.  For me, most often, it's plain old fear of failure.  I let that fear drive the bus sometimes, deciding that inaction is better than trying and failing.  It's easier for me to say that "I'm not built to jump high" or "I can't swim" than it is to put the work into making things happen, especially knowing that in the end despite all my efforts I may not succeed.  What I'm learning is that when I avoid situations because I'm afraid to fail, I settle back in, staying where I am, doing what I’ve always done.  But while “where I am” may be just fine for now, it’s not where I ultimately want to be.  

Another true story.
Fear may stop you from getting hurt, help you avoid uncomfortable situations, and keep you from screwing up, but it may also keep you from being the person you want to be and seeing what you are truly capable of.  I look back now and think how different my life would be if I had continued to buy into my own B.S.  There's so much I would have missed.  Turns out, I AM a runner, I CAN jump high, and I AM a sprinter (the jury's still out on the swimming- but I'm working on it in 2014 so stay tuned).  If you open your eyes to other possibilities, you may just find (as I did) a whole lotta awesome stuff along the way. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2014 Personal Goals (and one shocking admission)

Goal setting for 2014 is proceeding nicely. Admittedly, this does not come naturally to me and it takes me a while to get the process started meaning that I really have to rack my brain for weeks before I nail down measurable and realistic goals.  Race time goals are the easiest to get onto paper so those are usually the first ones to roll out. It's interesting though that this year there are more non-running goals on the list than running goals but I was inspired after achieving my chin-up challenge target over this past summer.  Here's what I have:

1. Learn to swim "for real" (pool and open water)
2. Improve my stand up paddleboarding skills
3. Revisit rock climbing
4. Complete 15 road, trail, and/or obstacle races
5. Run one 1:50 Half Marathon
6. GoPerformance Assessment Score of 450 or above
7. Cut myself some slack & stop being so hard on poor little Alison

Number 7 is going to be the biggest challenge for me.  I would even go so far as to say that the other goals will be a walk in the park compared to Number 7. I'm going to let you in on a little secret (shhhh)...on the outside I hold myself out to be an independent, accomplished, and self-confident woman but on the inside I am constantly tearing myself to shreds.  

No exaggeration, I give myself grief every waking hour of every day.  I've struggled with poor body image and destructive internal dialogue for as long as I can remember. I have a hard time admitting it and I hide it very well (at least I think I hide it well) but no one in the world could ever be more critical of me than me. I could stand in front of a mirror for days and point out every flaw I see and everything I want to change but if you were to pose the question of what I like about myself, I promise you I would draw a blank. 

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I feel that I don't have value (I would never be cool with anyone else saying these things about me), but I am always so focused on the things I cannot do that I am totally blind to what I have accomplished and can't see the good in me.  I truly am my own worst enemy.

Now, I have gotten better about this over the years but I really need to cut it out effective immediately. I would never let anyone treat me or my friends/family the way I treat myself and that is no longer okay. 

It's time to evict the gremlin, finally make peace with myself in 2014 and (hopefully) accomplish a few other awesome things along the way.