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Ring that Bell

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

When I started running again in the fall of 2021 after an extended multi-year hiatus, I also acquired a new-to-me Garmin sports watch. Someone in my local moms’ running group was off-loading her gently used watch at a reasonable price and I snatched it up. I had been a FitBit gal for years, but having a Garmin made me feel like I was now a very serious runner.

As I started out on a modified “Couch to 5K” training plan (modified because I couldn’t even keep up with the beginner’s program), not even the flashy Garmin could prevent me from feeling defeated. I was discouraged, frustrated, and nostalgic for the good ol’ days when I was fit and had more speed and endurance. How had I let myself get to this point?

There had been a sliver of time in my early-30s when I was working out six times a week and in the best shape of my life. In my free time, I even became a certified personal trainer to support other people on their physical fitness journeys. I stayed active throughout my first pregnancy and was still coaching workout groups until I hit 7 months and decided I might need to reign it in.

Then, in 2014 when my son turned one and I was desperate to find myself again, I turned back to running. I set out to participate in one race each month and found the person I felt I had lost through numerous 5Ks, 10Ks, 10-milers, mud runs, obstacle course runs, and a few half-marathons. I loved the high and sense of satisfaction that came from achieving new PRs, runner speak for a personal record, and it felt gratifying to see my post-baby body feel strong again.

Then, in 2016, I got pregnant with kid #2 and was promoted at work to a bigger role with more responsibility around the same time. Instead of chasing PRs on the weekends, I was chasing after a precocious 3-year-old. Rather than head out for runs, I was much more interested in taking naps on the living room floor.

I had attempted to get back into running a few times since then, but it never really stuck for one reason or the other so when I decided in 2021 that I was *really* going to do it this time, I was skeptical. Acquiring the Garmin watch was very much a low-key ploy to make me think that it was going to be different this time. New watch, who ‘dis?

I quickly realized that the best part of this new accessory was not the bells and whistles; it was that it didn’t have any recollection of my previous running history.

Because I had done all of my prior running with a FitBit, every time I went out for a run, it registered as a new PR. Can you imagine? A new personal best every single time! Even when I went for my first outing and only ran for 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes of walking, I got a notification that, “Woohoo!” I had achieved my longest run to date.

This. Was. Amazing.

Rather than wax nostalgic and feel defeated about how fast or how long I used to be able to run, now I was creating new metrics of success based on where I was in my life right now. It was so much more motivating and allowed me to celebrate milestones based on my current circumstances instead of consistently falling short of my own unrealistic expectations. I realized I could apply this to so many other things in my life: weight, clothing sizes, cooking and meal prep, the number of push-ups I could do. The list goes on. With this framework, at any point, I could decide to push reset, disregard all of the previous history, and celebrate any and all new achievements moving forward as PRs. Brilliant.

Almost exactly one year later, I bee-lined to the bell in the finisher’s area at my first marathon. (For what it’s worth, it was legitimately my first marathon, not just in my new alternate reality. And, by bee-lined, I mean slowly hobbled, but I eventually made it.) It’s a long-standing tradition for runners to ring the bell when they achieve a new PR at a race. As I rang that bell in emotional and exhausted triumph, I celebrated the fact that resetting the metrics had empowered me to stop comparing myself to the way I used to be. Instead, I could feel immensely and unequivocally proud of my current accomplishment with my current circumstances at this current moment in time. I also realized that a byproduct of trying something that I have never done before, even when I am scared or insecure or overwhelmed, is that I am guaranteed to achieve a new PR every single time.

If you (or someone you know) could benefit from working with a certified coach and facilitator who will provide customized, holistic, and tireless support as you or your team identify and take action toward your goals, please reach out to One Eleven Leadership to set up a complimentary consultation.


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