The Upside of No.

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” – Oscar Wilde

I find, lately, that I am stuck in a rut of “no’s.” Everything has come to a standstill while I’m trying to figure out my next move – and I’m sabotaging, just a teeny bit. Some of the no’s are coming from within, but they are fears masked by “don’t want to’s” and “can’ts”. And some of them, loud and clearly, are coming from others.

I wrote to a friend earlier tonight that it is hard to hear well-intentioned concerns come out as a “NO.” I’m facing this somewhat with my upcoming marathon training. When my dad ran the marathon in 1987 or 1988, he finished in about 5 hours, and did so coming off of an injury. He told me, “Just be an official finisher.” My stepmom said, “Just beat your dad’s time.”

I didn’t ┬áreally internalize these sentiments. I think, by today’s standards, officially finishing would mean that I’d have to finish in 6 hours or something. I will most definitely finish in less than 6 hours. And I don’t really care about beating my dad’s time, so long as I finish. Nevertheless, I decided that day that I really wanted to try and run my first marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Now, anyone who knows me (or, if you’ve read any given day of this blog), knows my love/hate relationship with exercising. It’s still alive and well. So imagine what the reactions I got to this newfound plan: “You’re not fast enough for that.” “You will hurt yourself.” “That’s too much for a new runner.” “That takes years.”

But you know what? As much as it instills fear in me, it gives me hope. Granted, I haven’t really done anything yet – the discipline hasn’t taken over. But it does say to me that, if I really work hard at this, I just might achieve my goal. And even if I don’t, I gave it my best.

I find that some of my best motivations come from being told “no.” Who is this person telling me what I can and cannot achieve? And even if they’re right, who says I shouldn’t attempt? It’s not a matter of being unrealistic. I am, by nature, unrealistic. It’s about saying to myself (and others), “here is a plan I’m going to put into action. I will see if it works.” and if it doesn’t, then you start again.

And if it does, everyone should watch out.

No Responses to “The Upside of No.”

  1. Running for Reachout

    It doesn’t take years but you need to be sensible. For context, I’ve been running since last October and have done three marathons since then. The times were 5:10:55 (December), 4:55:30 (March 10th) and 4:27:06 (April 1st) so it’s definitely possible. What I’d advise you is to try to pick a relatively flat course for your first marathon, have a solid training/diet plan in place, take about a dozen gels with you on the day so you have one about every half-hour or so (also plenty of water), and make sure you have good running shoes (asics are the best in my opinion). Can’t stress that last point enough, I ran my first marathon in 3 year old shoes that were falling apart and it messed up my left knee for a month.

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