man sprinting parallel to beach; your will is a powerful thing

Your will is a powerful thing

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Your will is a powerful thing…

Recently, I came to the sudden existential realization that I am at that age where I have to choose between beginning to strive to get into the best physical shape of my life and thus be able to stay active for the rest of my life, and slowly regressing into my natural form – slightly obese. If you’re in your 20’s, then you either have already realized this yourself, or you soon will (spoiler alert).

So, I made the decision this morning that I would exercise after my university courses, and when I returned home from my day’s study, I was greeted by Florida’s afternoon, 92ºF (33ºC), sultry summer sun. I wasn’t going to let my circumstances dictate my future, though.

The cost

For the first part of my exercise I went running. Besides my lungs and feet beginning to die only after a few minutes of jogging, it was one of the best decisions of my life; here’s why…

I was nearing the end of my run, when I discovered a straight grass path that lead from one fence to another. The distance between these fences was about 120 yards (110 meters). I decided that I would do 5 sprints from one end to the other, and that each sprint would have to beat the time of the last, and that between each, I would take only a 45 second break.

Now I’ve done similar exercises like this many times before, but there was something this particular experience helped me see.

The work

So there I went. Each sprint was about 2 times as difficult as the one before it I’d say, but somehow, each was about a second faster than the last. Astonishingly, the 4th sprint was only just 25/100th of a second faster than the 3rd. The last sprint though had the greatest time difference: it was more than 2 seconds faster than the 4th sprint, so overall, I was improving as I went.

That’s not even the amazing part. What’s crazy is that not only did each 120 yard sprint get faster than the last as I was becoming more and more exhausted, I forced myself to not even glance at my stopwatch until after I pressed the “stop” button at the end of each sprint.

That means I forced my mind to be extremely attentive to the signals my body was sending it, and forced it to be responsive to my body’s state, pushing more at certain points of the 120 yards – where I believed I needed to, in order to beat my last time, if only by 25/100th of a second.

Well you may say, “Sam, good for you but I didn’t come here to hear you brag – what does this have to do with me?”

What is to be learned

I relearned something today, and that is that your will is a powerful thing. It wasn’t the stopwatch making me better, it wasn’t my feet, or even my soleus or gastrocnemius! It was my will – which is to say, my deliberate decision.

My Mom would often tell me as a kid not to overexert myself, because I was infamous for that in our household. But, setting the decision in my mind to push myself regardless of the pain has pretty much always worked out; except for that time I straight up passed out in a sandbox  for who knows how long after running untold miles when I was 11 years old, it worked out in high school football, it worked out in the military, and it has worked out in college academics as well.

To side with my ma here, I’m not suggesting to overexert yourself all the time: you’ll definitely get burned out and even wear yourself down.

What I am saying, and recommending, is to keep your eye balls open, poised and awaiting those pivotal moments in life where your actions really count, and will to have the determination to do great things in those special moments.

Your will is a powerful thing.


For more posts like this about faith, life, and running, please check out our friend Erica Cook’s blog TheGraceDiaries.squarespace.com. I particularly love the article The Power of Grace.

To delve into determination and believing more, check out my recent post Believing: it makes the world go round.

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© 2017 Sam Valladares. All rights reserved.

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