I was never one of those people who loved running. I’m never been big on sports to be honest, but if I had to choose, I would often prefer a round of intense tennis to running. The act of running always seemed boring to me, and other than the yearly 2.4km jog that was required to pass the physical test at school each year, you could say that running and I were complete strangers. Scrap that. I detested running.
Not only did running seem incredibly boring and monotonous, I just didn’t see any point in it. Why on earth would people sign up for marathons to run? It just didn’t make any sense to me. So for years, I would look upon running in disdain.
I gave it a shot every once in a while – I even accompanied Juan once on a jog around the Jardin Botanico in front of the apartment we used to live in. I think it was the only time I jogged in three years. That jog confirmed my strong dislike for running, and after that one time, I shrugged my shoulders and went back to life without running.
Yet this year, by some random miracle, I decided to sign up for an annual membership at the Sport Club along Avenida Cabildo. The first day at the gym, the instructor told me to start with the treadmill.
Oh oh. I thought. Here we go again. Let’s see how long I’ll last.
Surprisingly, I discovered an unexpected fondness for the machine. I liked watching the timer in front on me, and as I pounded on the treadmill, one foot after the other, walking quickly at first and later breaking into a slow jog, I realized that the act of running was still as boring as ever. The difference this time, however, was that I saw running in a different light.
Instead of dreading running as I used to – because of stitches that I would get when doing so – I now see running as a challenge; one that I want to overcome and triumph over.
So I’ve been running once a week – not bad considering that before this I hadn’t run in years. And while I still get stitches and find it extremely difficult to regulate my breathing, I make a run for it anyway (pun intended, of course!). My stamina is terrible, I’m aware of that. I take shallower breaths than I should, I know. I can’t run for longer than 6 continuous minutes, after which I have to stop and stretch and maybe force myself to continue. If I’m too tired, I just keep walking.
But the wonderful thing is this – each time I oblige myself to go for a jog; each time I push myself a little further, even though my muscles scream at me to stop, I know that I’m beating the resistance. Mentally I still need training to know that I can actually go further than what my tired legs tell me; and I know that I’m still far from being in good shape.
Yet it is this act of working at something over and over again (even if it’s something you’re not good at; and especially if it’s something you don’t love) – this act of showing up and working at it – that makes me slightly better each time. I’m not aiming to be a marathon runner anytime soon; nor do I want to run races. None of those lofty goals for me, thank you very much. All I want to do is to be better 1% to infinity – which basically means to get a little better each time I do it.
Likewise, in life beyond running, to be better at what we do and better yet, what we love, we need discipline. Discipline to set aside time on your agenda to work at your craft, the will to keep working at it despite being tired or bored or both, and the professionalism to continue day after day.
It’s easy to let resistance defeat us, for it to send us a few blows and leave us wounded, recovering and unable to continue our work. In every thing we do that makes us better, we will encounter resistance. I can guarantee you that. What differentiates us however, will be whether we decide to stand up, show up, and throw our punches at resistance. It’s a continuous struggle, of course. Resistance never gives up and neither should we. At least not if we want to be good at whatever it is we do. We have to keep our eyes on the goal, get to work every single day, and do whatever it takes to beat resistance.
For me, I have to keep practicing and work on improving on my writing and food photography every single time, and try to run a minute longer every time I hit the treadmill. Even if I’m not in the mood. Even if I’m busy and don’t seem to have the time. Even if it’s tempting not to work on what I love most.
What about you? What do you have to work on today? In which areas of your life do you have to beat resistance? Are you getting up, showing up and working every time?
Today, here’s a recipe for gluten-free polenta bruschetta – a easy and delicious snack to give you the energy to keep showing up, keep working hard, and keep beating resistance.
Made with creamy polenta that’s been pan-fried till crisp golden perfection, then topped with a mix of diced onions, cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh basil and olive oil, this gluten-free polenta bruschetta is definitely going to keep you going on!
- 1 cup of polenta grain
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cups of milk
- A generous shake of salt
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 onion, diced
- 1½ cups of cherry tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup of chopped basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Combine milk and water into a pot, add a generous shake of salt and bring it to a boil
- When the milk-water mixture starts boiling, pour in the polenta grain in the form of a “rain shower” and whisk constantly so that no lumps will form (using a whisk is better than a spatula because it makes the polenta smoother) – you may have to stir about 10 – 15 minutes constantly
- Add in butter and Parmesan cheese, and salt, and stir well
- Spread polenta in a flat later on a rectangle baking tray and allow polenta to cool
- Once polenta has cooled and is set in place, cut polenta into small triangles (about the size of a small bruschetta)
- In a pan with a bit of oil, pan-fry polenta triangles on both sides until both sides are crispy and golden brown
- Combine diced onion, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, olive oil and salt in a bowl
- Top crispy polenta triangles with the tomato-onion-basil topping