The very thing that we resist is the thing we must be compelled to investigate or address. ~Kristin Armstrong
For Christmas, Chris surprised me with an amazing gift: four personal training sessions with a running coach. Not just any running coach. But somewhat of a local legend here in Austin, Gilbert Tuhabonye. If you haven't heard of him, read his biography and you too will likely be as awed and inspired as I was.....
He leads a local running club: Gilbert's Gazelles. I had dabbled in the thought of joining a running group a few months back but realized the schedule just wouldn't work for me unless I wanted to take Madeline and Max to my workouts. So when Christmas came and I opened up a gift certificate for my own personal coaching sessions (no need to work around group session schedule, yay!) I cried like a baby at the thoughtfulness of the gift.
But I have to confess: I.was.scared. For about a month Chris asked me every day, Did you call to set up your coaching sessions with Gilbert (who in my head I call Mr. Gazelle)? I had a million excuses why I didn't call each day: I forgot... I had to go to the grocery store... I folded laundry today... I decided to alphabetize our books...What? A phone? What's that? I don't think I know how to use one.... But here is what it really came down to: running with a coach would put me so far out of my comfort zone, the thought made me want to chew my nails to stubs while running in circles chasing my non-existent tail. It would keep me up at night as I tried to talk myself into just making the call and setting up the sessions. I knew I needed to do this to become a better runner and yet fear was holding me back.
Eventually, I called. Rather, emailed.
As I drove over to meet with Gilbert for our first session, I was so nervous I wasn't sure whether I wanted to puke or poop myself. Maybe both. All that nervousness was washed away when I met him and realized I had worked myself into a frenzy over nothing. 1. He is very nice. 2. He didn't even realize he was supposed to be meeting with me that morning.
So after an awkward start, we got down to business. He took me to the lake path to watch me run. Little did I know he was going to videotape me and then painfully make me watch it over and over and over (OK, really it was only one time, but it felt like forever!). Now, I already knew that I have bad posture and somewhat of a funny looking run. Thanks to modern day technology you can see yourself running because race photographers have videos set up at the finish line to catch you crossing the tape in all your glory. So I had already seen my floppy fish arms. It's like they have a mind of their own. Remember this picture from the San Francisco Marathon? Well, I totally lied to you. I wasn't just doing the peace sign, I do run like Phoebe Buffay!
As you can see from both of our faces, this style of running makes for a happy runner!
As he played the video back, he mumbled to himself, "I wonder why you run that way?" I answered in a half-truth, "I don't know, it feels comfortable." The truth is, it does feel natural to run like Phoebe, and if I was honest with him, I wouldn't have said, I don't know, but: Two reasons...1. years of growing up feeling like the Ugly Duckling and wanting to hide in my own skin equals horrible posture and 2. years of running and listening to 'horrible' lyrics like this:
Now wait a minute, y'all
This dance ain't for everybody
Only the sexy people
So all you fly mothers, get on out there and dance
Dance, I said!
I dare you to listen to a classic like Salt N Peppa's Push It and run while keeping perfect form! Any time someone calls you a "Fly Mother" you can't help but get a little wiggly and drop it like you're hot. Fo' realz.
Anyway, we walked back to the training room and he put me through a series of torture err exercises like step ups, forward and backward lunges, sprinting with my hands locked behind my back (?!). All the while I couldn't help but feel like we were acting out our own scene from Dirty Dancing. Remember how Johnny yells at Baby to keep her spaghetti arms in place? Well, yeah, I got to be Baby. Gilbert played an admirably nice Johnny. He already instructed me to keep my floppy fish arms from crossing my mid line and it's like those fishies had a mind of their own! Lunge-flop-lunge-flop. He'd patiently grab my arm to steady it and reposition them into the correct running form. "I'm surprised. Doesn't your back hurt you after a long run with all the wiggling you do". Me, "No (pant pant), no back pain...how many more lunges?"
Later as I was sprinting in the parking lot with my hands behind my back and got the go ahead to start using my arms, Gilbert shouted, "Arms down! No, don't keep them still, just keep them down! You can pump them!" Now as much as I'd like to say we made it to the final scene, where Johnny lifts Baby into the air in a beautifully graceful lift, we're not quite there yet. Because I still have a lot to learn as his student. I still have floppy fish arms and I'm working on correcting my form(keeping those fishies in check is taking my smile away but I have faith it'll come back).
And when we to get to that final 'lift scene', I'd be lying if I'd say I deserve to keep the part as Baby. Because I outweigh Gilbert by a good 20 pounds (OK OK, if I'm truly honest, closer to 40 pounds). If anyone gets to be Johnny in the final scene, it's me. And I guess that would make Gilbert, Baby.
I'm glad I made the call (email). Stepping out of the safety of my comfort zone has been painful, both physically, mentally and emotionally, but I have faith that confronting what I had been resisting will make me a better runner.
Here's to stepping out of our comfort zones and growing.