Looking to the past, it is always easy to see mistakes made as a younger person. I have made my fair share of mistakes in my life, one of which almost cost me a secure future.
It was something I had always struggled with, whether it was a mental block or physical limitations, I just could not run. I even convinced myself of it. I would constantly tell myself "I can't do this." it eventually caught up to me and almost ruined my life.
The year was 2014.
I was neck deep in basic combat training in Fort Jackson, SC. I wanted to be a soldier and serve my country, but I also wanted to use the educational benefits the Army would provide me upon my graduation from basic training so I could go to college and have no debt from loans.
Unfortunately, I did not take basic training and the physical fitness test (which included a two mile run) seriously enough. I was very strong at pushups and situps, but I just could not convince myself that I could run.
Towards the end of basic training, they started to process me for a discharge from the military due to my inability to pass the fitness test. I caught a massive stroke of luck when it was discovered that the lieutenant of my basic training unit had originally signed off on a release from active duty form, which ultimately overrode the discharge processing and I was sent home with the opportunity to improve myself and come back to training ready to pass the fitness test and basic training as well.
Upon my return home, I did absolutely no exercise.
I continued to fail my run and made no effort to improve.
My recruiting and retention sergeant told me I had to pass my fitness test by April 2015 or he would start processing to kick me out of the military as well.
My sergeant told me this December of 2014. December 2014 is an important milestone in my military career.
Although it is not a goal accomplished, it is a goal that was set that month.
December 2014 was the last time I failed my fitness test. That month was also when my sergeant told me to consider joining the track team to improve my run.
Fortunately, my high school had an indoor track team that practiced in the winter.
My coach for the team was also a member of the Air Force and helped train me to run the 1600 meter and the 3200 meter (1 mile and 2 mile). When our first and only track meet of the season came up, I was set to run the 1600 meter on an indoor track, which consisted of 12 laps.
When I began the race, I was not feeling too horrible. By the fourth lap, I was starting to get tired. My fifth lap, my brain started to yell at me and tell me I could not continue running.
I just told myself that I would go one more lap and then walk, one more lap and then walk. Before I knew it, eleven laps were finished and I was finishing my twelfth.
The aftermath of the race was definitely a memorable one for me.
Although I came in last place and got lapped about three times, I managed to get a mile time of 8:38.88.
That was more than what I needed to pass the one mile run in my recruiting and retention unit.
I was ecstatic.
That race taught me that I am only limited by my mind and that I can overcome it.
When April 2015 rolled around, I had joined the outdoor track team, which was coached by a former Navy seaman.
I was still running the one and two mile and was stronger, healthier, and faster than ever.
I ran for fun then.
I enjoyed my time when my feet were hitting the ground and my heart was beating quickly. I was still not the fastest person on the team, by far, but I was still strong enough to not come in last place for every race.
When the time came for me to run my two miles for my fitness test at the recruiting and retention unit, I over exceeded the standards that were demanded of me. The time I had to meet was 18:36 or less and I ended up getting a 15:36 two mile. I had succeeded, I managed to stay in the military, and now I have the desire to help fellow soldiers and recruits succeed by using my story and experience to help them become the best versions of themselves possible.
Running saved my life. Running showed me how to be strong and how to not become discouraged.
Running taught me that I am only limited by my mind. I am thankful I learned my lesson before I ruined my life and obliterated any attempt I would receive for a college education and a successful career.
Nothing is impossible if you overcome the limitations of your mind and have a little faith.