Challenge yourself

by singlemomseeking on January 30, 2011

I came up with this blog title — “Challenge yourself” — because my intention was to write an adrenaline-pumping entry about a big decision I made this week. It involves challenging myself in perhaps the most physical way I ever have in my life (well, with the exception of giving birth all-naturally?)

Yet the truth is: now I’m scared. And I’m starting to wonder if publishing this post is just a way of setting myself up. But here goes:

A few years ago, I’d finally made some big lifestyle changes, which meant joining the local gym to stay fit (and burn off stress!) This included signing up for a spinning class. Soon enough, I met my man — an avid cyclist — and he started to spin with me. I love to spin, but during the spring and summer, I kept thinking, “It would be so much nicer to cycle outdoors.”

In the meantime, I kept hearing about more and more folks who were signing up to ride a “century” (a 100 mile bike ride). This includes Thunderpants, my sister — and my blogging super-triathlete friend, T. I’m so impressed by these friends and family, who’ve physically challenged themselves, and had loads of fun along the way.

Well, in the past few weeks, here’s what I’ve done:

So, what am I afraid of? What if I bike half-way up the next steep hill, but feel like I won’t make it? What if I cycle most of century — but NOT all of it? In so many ways, this challenge I’ve set myself up for feels so familiar. It’s like becoming a single parent but not knowing how I’ll manage all alone. It’s like meeting an amazing man but not knowing if our relationship will make it.

If I think about every life challenge, however, there’s one lesson I’ve learned: pacing yourself. I might not know how I’ll raise child solo for the rest of her life, but I can do my best to raise her one day at a time with love and integrity. The same goes for a relationship.

Here’s my sister and me on a ride yesterday, just before we got caught in the rain:

So, have you ever set yourself up for a big challenge, and then felt anxious that you’ve bit off more than you can chew?

Are you facing any challenges right now — physical, mental, emotional — or a mix of any of the above? how are you getting through them?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

CCD February 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

We can always do more than we think we can.

Five weeks ago I succumbed to pressure to join a 12 week body transformation challenge at my gym. Initially I balked at it. I felt like I didn’t need a group or a challenge to meet my goals. However, I have never done this as a group or challenge before so I went ahead and joined in. I have to say that if it weren’t for the challenge and competition, I would not be pushing myself as hard as I am. We officially started two weeks ago. I am strictly following their workout and nutrition plan and I am already seeing great results.


Q Turner February 17, 2011 at 5:28 am

Oh yeah, I can relate, except my woes are work-related! My problem is that I’m not a workaholic but I work like I am one. As I sit at my desk at work, around 10 every morning, I scan my to-do list and shake my head and know I’m just never going to get it all done. I have never been good at prioritizing, but lately I’ve been getting a crash course in it!

So, prioritize and look at the task in sections. You’ll make it!


Shannon February 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm

So proud of you! And this challenge will only confirm to yourself how strong and capable you are.


Momma Sunshine February 2, 2011 at 8:51 am

That’s AWESOME! Good for you!!

I agree with what T said – it’s largely about mental stamina more than anything else. I ran a full marathon a few years back, and when it got tough I just kept telling myself to keep on moving, keep on moving…and it worked!

Good luck!! 🙂


Don February 2, 2011 at 2:43 am

You can do it! I used to do bike races, and to be honest, though I wasn’t very good at it it was still infinitely worth it. The sense of satisfaction at the end is amazing.


AdrienneMay February 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I frequently worry that I bite off more than I can chew. It is not like it hasn’t happened to me either. I have gotten over ambitious before…but you know what? you have to think to yourself…what is the worst that can happen?

WHAT IF? you don’t finish the race? you did more than you would have done if you didn’t try at all. you made progress and you still have a LOT to be proud of.

Quit worrying about not being able to do it 100% and instead work at it like you will do it 200% and if you only get to 75% you have still done 75% more than you would have done otherwise.

You are amazing! Know that.

Love your blog design too. I keep changing mine around, trying to find the way I like it best!


Jolene February 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

Congrats! That’s awesome. I personally LOVE to challenge myself physically too. I’d like to do a tri this year, but I need to uh, learn to swim first 😉 And I’d like to do another half marathon (did my first last year). I’ll be rooting you on!!


Kevin January 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Wooo-hoooo, Rachel.. way to go with the training. You will become an endorphine junkie before you know it.


BlueBella January 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Rock on Mama!!! You can do it!

After two rough pregnancies I felt like my body had failed me. So I set the goal of doing a half marathon (13.1 miles) on the weekend of my youngest’s first birthday, and it also happend to be on my birthday as well. So I considered the race my birthday present to myself.
Lo and behold I was scared. But that fear drove me to one of the best days of my life, and one of the healthiest days, too. I still vividly remember that amazing feeling, running down the crowd packed chute to the finish line and getting my finishers medal. It is also one of my most proud moments – to do something for myself which benefited my family with my health and happiness.
Now get to training, girl!!! Also, if you’re up for any traveling, there’s always RAGBRAI – a huge bike ride across Iowa:)


Kat Wilder January 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Rachel — Nothing lets us understand ourselves better that putting ourselves in uncomfortable places and seeing how it feels.

Nothing is learned by being in the safe places, only the gray areas.

You can do this. It will be hard. It will hurt like hell. It will make you question, “And WHY am I doing this?!?”

And when you’re done, you will feel sooooooo good.

Go, girl!!!!


T January 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Wow. I’m so proud of you.

Training is good. Endurance is good. Knowing what nutrition your body needs on the ride is good. But more important than that?

Mental stamina.

Find yourself a mantra that you’ll lean on when it gets tough. Remember, as you said “one day at a time”, one mile at a time. Or one 1/2 mile. Or break it down into 10 miles. Keep your eyes on what’s right in front of your wheel. Don’t look too far ahead to the next hill and get defeatist.

And remember to breathe. Just like in yoga! In yoga, when you’re in an uncomfortable asana, your teacher reminds you to breathe and allow your body to relax into the discomfort. Then your muscles let go and it isn’t so difficult anymore.

You got this. Yoga on a bike, baby! 🙂


Anna January 30, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Wow. I am so impressed with people that do triathlons and such, because there is NO way I would ever do one. I don’t run unless I’m being chased.

My big challenge is to find a job down where my bf lives so we can start our life together. Not easy. I’ve just decided to make myself a little more versatile, too, by pursuing a graduate certificate in nonprofit management. So back to school for me. That’ll definitely be a challenge!


soontobesinglemom January 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Congratulations on this! I will have to take your advice on pacing myself…I’m doing my first 5K in May. And I don’t run. Ever. But it’s for a good cause and figure it’s something to cross off my bucket list.

I just joined the YMCA and figure that 3 months should be enough time to train for it…right? 😉


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