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You Are Capable of Much More Than You Believe Yourself to Be

Last week, I ran my first 10K without stopping. Yes, it was inside on a treadmill. Yes, it took me over an hour. However, considering that three years ago I couldn’t even run a half mile without thinking I was going to pass out, I’m completely stoked.

How did it happen? Well, it started with pushing myself outside my comfort zone when it came to exercise. First, I did P90X. Then, I started running a full mile on a regular basis — which was a big accomplishment in itself for me!

Next, I did the Couch to 5K program and ran my first 5K race. These step-by-step victories gave me the motivation to keep aiming a little higher and a little higher. I worked up to four miles, then five miles, and finally 6.2 miles.

Sure, I definitely need to improve my time — and I need to have quite a few more successful 6 and 7-mile runs under my belt before I’m ready to attempt a true 10K race, but each little running success step makes me think that maybe a half marathon or even a full marathon really isn’t as utterly impossible as I once believed it to be.

It just goes to prove that, as Andy Traub says in Early to Rise, “You are capable of much more than you believe yourself to be.”

So stop thinking “it’s not possible” and start jumping out and trying. For truly, you can’t say something isn’t possible if you’ve not gone out there and given it your best shot.

How have you nudged yourself outside your comfort zone recently? Tell us in the comments so we can celebrate with you!

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  • Victoria says:

    Congratulations! I felt the same way when I finally got beyond 3 miles. It took me months and months of running from telephone pole to telephone pole then walking then run telephone pole to telephone pole again until one day I was running a whole mile then 2 then 3 then…….6 …..10…..13.1………26.2 (it took 3 years to make it to the 26.2). I literally started crying during my first 1/2 marathon, because I was so overwhelmed with a feeling of complete joy in the Lord that He could strengthen my body to do such things. (oh and by the way I just found out you can run a race for compassion, I am pondering when and where)

  • Way to go – and stop apologizing for your time! As someone who right now believes a 5K is a total impossibility ( I know – I know just do it) I find that fact that you can run a 10K without stopping an awesome accomplishment. Sometimes I think us women beat ourselves up for the things we don’t do well and don’t take the time to celebrate our wins. Nice post.

  • Kate SDDS says:

    YES! My husband and I are total control freaks (we are believers that God is in control, but if given the opportunity – we kinda like to have a plan and stick to it)…… we felt called to adopt a special needs baby and long story short we were matched with a little girl w a cleft lip that was about to be born – we thought we would be in NICU for a couple days, learn to eat, schedule a low risk surgery and get on with our lives……….until we found out she had a heart condition too – 1 month in the nicu – 2 weeks in picu will teach you a lot about yourself – we wrote about our adoptions here if interested =)

  • Andy Traub says:

    Publishing a book was way outside my comfort zone but MAN has it paid off in changed lives and healthy $ales. Congrats on the 10K. It doesn’t matter if it’s inside, outside or on the moon. 10K is 10K. Well done.

  • Mary says:

    Congratulations! The first time I came across this idea was when I read the book “Teach Your Baby to Read”. They were teaching brain damaged kids to read and then looked at normal kids and thought “we can do more” (I’m paraphrasing).

  • Katy says:

    That’s awesome!! Congratulations.

  • September says:

    ‘Sure, I definitely need to improve my time — and I need to have quite a few more successful 6 and 7-mile runs under my belt before I’m ready to attempt a true 10K race, ”

    I really, really disagree with this, and honestly it goes against the entire point of this post. The fact is that you ran a 10K, and if you’ve done it once you will do it again. You might end up signing up for a run and walking for part of it–but you’re still DOING it, and you will have plenty of company in the walking lane. Improve your time if it makes YOU happy, but don’t use it as a reason to do something that is motivating and fun and makes all that hard work worthwhile. When you do a “true” 10K race you won’t be the fastest or the slowest, but I can guarantee you’ll have fun and leave feeling motivated to keep working and validated for all the effort you’ve put in.

  • Amy Lauren says:

    I love reading about this and I really love reading your blog posts about running. You should definitely do a 10K race- if you can already run 6 miles, even on a treadmill, you can complete a 10K. I would say to get in maybe another 6 mile run and a 7 miler to build confidence, but you can do it. I’m no expert, but I am a coach (granted I mostly coach children, but those kiddos are faster than me).

    You *are* capable of much more than you believe. 3 years ago I was like you and doubting myself over my 1st 10K. Now, I’ve run 4 half marathons, numerous 10Ks, and 5Ks… I don’t even know, probably a 5K every month. It’s so amazing when you get to the point where you realize your body can do things it couldn’t do just 3-4 weeks ago!!

    • Crystal says:

      I’m definitely planning to! And I have my eyes set on a half marathon next — which is just almost beyond crazy that I’m considering it.

      Thanks so much for your kind encouragement. You sound like a great coach!

      • Amy Lauren says:

        You’re welcome, you could definitely do a half! It’s a lot more do-able than so many people think. I have a lot of friend who are working moms who run them. If you’re running 6 miles, even when you’re on vacation, you definitely have the will to be successful at running or *anything*.

  • Brooke says:

    Beyond inspiring! My cousin has been working on similar goals over the past 2 years and I am SO incredibly proud of her. I’ve really been wanting to join her, just haven’t made the time, which is sad because she’s a working mother and I stay home. If she can find the time, then I can surely make time! Thanks for getting the thought back into my head, tomorrow I WILL start to get my body back into shape! Thank you for the testament and push!

  • jk says:

    Wow, so excited for you!
    My nine year old daughter and I went from the couch to almost 5k now, considering my daughter avoids excercise at all cost and I used to detest running. We now enjoy running and the time we have together is precious. We plan on running the 5k race at Disney in the summer.
    Anyway, you are such an inspiration!

  • Elise says:

    Congrats on your 10k! Who cares if it was in a treadmill? It’s amazing what you can train your body to do. You’re making me jealous, I can wait to start running again! 🙂

  • Lainey says:

    Crystal, I think you should read the book marathoning for mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield. I think it may help with your perspective on running.

  • Tiffany says:

    There’s a very popular runner (RUNEMZ) who runs 95% of her runs on a treadmill and still competes in marathons (and runs them fast!). So, treadmill or not, you can run a 10K no problem. And if you look into half marathon training, you will see that you are totally capable. Most weekly runs are between 3-5 miles and the long weekend runs start at 7 miles and you will work your way up to 12ish miles. I KNOW you can do it!

    Here is a good and free training plan:

  • lori says:

    My hubby and I are doing P90X together every night! That’s way out of our comfort zone for sure. We’re having a 20th anniversary party and vow renewal in June so we want to be in shape. Love reading your inspiring stories!

  • Jessica says:

    Great job! I started running this year. I am really encouraged by each run. I am slowly improving each time. I’m looking forward to my first 5k in May.

  • Delilah says:

    Good job! I didn’t run more than 3 steps four years ago, since then I have run 6 full marathons and 15 half marathons. It has nothing to do with your body! It has everything to do with your head! Keep up the good work and you will be there before you know it.

  • Tonya says:

    Congrats, that is fantastic! A half marathon is easier than you think, especially if you’re already fit enough to run a 10k without stopping, regardless of your running speed. I gain weight every year at the holiday season and this year I was determined not to. In order to help keep myself in check, I committed back in September to running a 1/2 marathon in February – actually exactly 24 hours from the time of this reply, I expect to be somewhere around mile marker 5 in the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon! At any rate, I was only running a 5k in September when I made this commitment – had never ran anything beyond 4 miles before – and for me at least, getting to about mile 8 was the hardest part of my training. By the time I was running 8 miles regularly, it was nothing to tack on an extra mile on my next training run. You and your body may be different since we all are, but if you keep reminding yourself the battle is mental – short of injuries or illnesses, your body is fit enough for this – you will be quite successful.

    Maybe next year I’ll see you at the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon?! It’d be something to shoot for!

  • Karin says:

    Congrats Crystal!!
    It is SUCH a test of your mental toughness to watch the miles slowly tick by on a treadmill… I think if you can do a 10k on the treadmill, a 10k race will come easily for you! I was so excited to read the recap of your first 5k, and I can’t wait for the day you are posting about finishing your first 10k, because I can relate! Personally, I have lost 126 pounds in the past 2 years, and part of my success was learning to love running. Last October I ran the Chicago Marathon (without stopping, except to hug my husband and say hi at random points along the course!) in my size 4 running skirt. To say it was exhilarating is an understatement!! Running, and watching your endurance grow, is SO empowering I can’t even describe it. I love to see other people fall in love with the sport the way I did. Keep up the awesome work, and continuing to inspire others!!!

  • Jillbert says:

    I’m working toward swimming a mile. This is huge for me because until a few months ago, I could only doggie paddle. I always wanted to know how to really swim but for years it was something that I was going to learn one day. I’m 44. I realized that I had to make that day happen or it never would. I finally signed up for some individual swim lessons and can now REALLY swim (with my face in the water!! Without drowning!!!). I’ve been lap swimming and working on improving my strokes for several weeks now while building up my stamina. I’m now swimming several times each week and have managed 30 laps — a mile is 35.2 laps so I’m on my way!

  • Katherine says:

    I recently started P90. I looked at P90X, and realized that it was far too advanced for me at this point in time. I needed something a little more… beginners. So far, so good. I’m still struggling with push ups, but I can go a little lower now than I could before, so that’s saying something. I hope that the more weight training I do, the lower I’ll be able to go, until finally I’ll be able to do a whole push up! It sounds silly, a know – but I’ve never had much upper body strength, and I’ve actually never been able to do push ups. Ever.

    I started P90 because I’ve always been comfortable in a size 8 or 10. When I moved from Maine to New York in 2010 to live with my then-fiance (now husband), I started gaining weight. The stress of living in a new place, getting married, and going from an active on-your-feet job to a desk job has really taken a toll. At a size 16, I’ve had to purchase an entirely new wardrobe. I’ve kept the clothes from before my weight gain, and when I look at them, I can’t believe I ever fit into something so small – a size “M” looks so tiny in comparison to what I wear now!

    • Crystal says:

      Oh goodness! You should have seen me trying to do push ups the first few weeks! They were so hard for me. But I keep making myself keep going a little bit farther and a little bit farther and at the end of ninety days, I was rockin’ out the push-ups — much to my surprise and excitement!

      You can do it!!

      • Kim M says:

        It is not crazy that you are considering a half marathon. 4 years ago when our youngest entered 1st grade I took up running. Like you, I thought I was going to die the first 1/2 mile. But I didn’t give up and I prayed though the miles. I signed up for a 5K, then for my 40th birthday present to myself I ran a half marathon, and like a previous post above, I cried the whole last mile because I couldn’t believe it. I did several 5, 10, and 15 Ks then for my 41st birthday I gave myself a marathon. I did it by putting one foot in front of the other, giving all the glory to God for the ability, and fundraising for the American Cancer Society at the same time, so I couldn’t bail. Last fall I started a cross country team at our kids tiny Christian school and the boys came in 4th in our League. God has opened so many doors because I refuse to take the credit. My ability to run comes from God, and when I put one foot in front of the other it is a good analogy of our faith walk with God. It isn’t always easy or comfortable or natural–but with God all things are possible.

  • K says:

    Wow! That’s great. I’d be glad to run 1 mile. Or even just do a light exercise routine on a regular basis.

    Guess there’s no time better than the present to get started. 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  • WOOHOO! I’m pumped for you. Way to go. 🙂

  • adriana says:

    Hi, I read your blog every day, and always wanting to write you, but your today post make me do it, I am trying the insanity work out, it has been very hard for me,some days sooo hard to complete the day . You post inspire me. I live in Mexico on the border with USA. You have a mexican grateful reader. Thanks for all the great posts, specials offers and freebies.

  • sue says:

    Thanks for sharing that amazing victory. Last fall my boyfriend and I attempted version of the couch to 5k but didn’t get far as weather and 4 kids to run around to sports affected our schedules. We went to look at tread mills today and now I’m more ready than ever! The timing of this article was perfect and not inspiring than you realize. Thank you.

  • Wow, way to go! You have inspired me to begin running. I’m on Week 6 of the Couch to 5K and am just about running a mile without stopping. These last few runs my feet have felt like they are made out of lead and I wonder why I am doing this to my body! But meeting a challenging goal feels SOOOO good! I know my body is firming up, I’ve lost over 7# so far, with 13# to go, and I know it is boosting my mood and immunity by getting regular exercise. A few months ago I would have never dreamed I would choose to do something as torturous as running. Now, I can run for 5-10 minutes straight (something I would have never thought I could do) and am dreaming of my first 5K in a month some friends have challenged me to run. My husband even wants to join me in running sometime soon, which will be a boost to our marriage and our health. I feel more discipined, more energetic, and more confident now that I’m running regularly!

  • Kristia says:

    I commend you for running that 10k on a treadmill. Treadmills can get tedious.

    If you can run a 10k, you can run a half-marathon. I start training for my 4th half this week. It’s in May. I have followed a 10 week training plan from Runner’s world magazine for each half I have done. It’s just 4 runs a week which is doable for my schedule. And it’s just one long run a week and you build up to 12 miles over the 10 weeks. The other 3 runs each week range from 3-6 miles through out the 10 weeks. So you are slowly building up the mileage, but not over-running and destroying your knees, hips and feet. Personally I have no desire to go up to a full marathon. The time involved for training is more than I have right now.

    If you want me to scan and email the training plan to you, I can. I tore it out of my magazine and it’s posted on my fridge. I’m not sure if it is offered on there site, you might be able to find it there. I highly recommend it for half-marathon training, especially your first one. If it sounds like I’m encouraging you to do a half, I am. I love running half marathons. Running 13.1 miles (at once) is really insane, the races are so much fun for me and my family and the sense of accomplishment has not diminished for me.

    Good luck. I love running. It does a mind and body good!

  • Sophie says:

    Go you!

    The quotes you have the end remind me of one of my favorite poems … one that I use to encourage me to chip away at things that “can’t be done”

    “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Guest

    Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
    But he with a chuckle replied
    That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
    Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
    So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
    On his face. If he worried he hid it.
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

    Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
    At least no one ever has done it;”
    But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
    And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
    With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
    Without any doubting or quiddit,
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

    There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
    There are thousands to prophesy failure,
    There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
    The dangers that wait to assail you.
    But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
    Just take off your coat and go to it;
    Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
    That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

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