It was early in the run, but already a good hour into the brick workout with the bike portion of back-to-back training completed. Another early morning hour meant a cool breeze and frozen toes from my vented cycling shoes. It took until the second mile for the feeling to come back into my feet and about that long before my legs stopped feeling like blobs of jello.
But instead of focusing on how my body felt, I focused on what I wanted to be.
I thought to myself “I am a runner.”
And my shoulders relaxed, my cadence increased and that tempo pace for three miles was almost too easy.
Slightly amazed, I smiled.
I thought to myself, “I am a runner” again after the tempo portion was completed and I had a good three miles to finish off at an easy pace. It was my slowest segment of the day — but not by much. The entire workout felt good and I felt like calling myself an athlete.
Two of the most powerful words are “I am.”
Really. Sit with that for a moment. One of the most powerful and profound phrases you can utter to yourself is “I am.” Because it’s all about how we choose to define ourselves. How we choose to see ourselves. And our reality flows from the choices we make about how we think. Action, most often, flows from thought and feeling.
There are stories we tell ourselves which can be different from the stories we tell other people. I can say, for instance, that I’m not defined by my job but if my first inclination when filling in the blank to “I am ___” is my job title, then maybe the story I’m telling yourself is different from the reality I want to live. Do I hesitate or offer apologies and qualifications when I utter the definition, “I am an athlete?” If that’s how I want to see myself, if that’s the place I want to live from, why would I hesitate? What is stopping me from defining myself in that way?
It’s all about the stories we choose to not only tell ourselves, but the ones we choose to believe. Does being an athlete mean I have to win the Boston Marathon? Does it mean I have to obtain this mythical lifestyle of health perfection? Does it mean I have to place in my age group or set a PR in every event I enter?
Other people tell us stories, not just about how they define themselves but also their definitions for us. And when we pay too much attention to the way others define us, it warps our own sense of authenticity and keeps us from living the life we want and from being the person we want to be.
And what I’m discovering is that it really is as simple as choosing something different. Sometimes, the choice is on face value and it doesn’t take hold immediately. But if you keep finding new ways to finish the phrase, “I am” — ways which feel exciting and authentic and right to you — the action will follow naturally.
Who do I choose to be today?
I am a runner. I am a triathlete. I am a writer.
I am a seeker of adventurer.
And I am having a marvelous time.