I’m kind of a brat. Anytime I’m told that I have to do something the odds of me actually doing it are slim to none. I really don’t like being told what to do. Even if it’s me telling myself what to do, I react like a petulant little seven year old, mentally stomp my foot, and throw an internal hissy fit.

My mother tells me that this defiant attitude is nothing new. Apparently when I was really little she tried spanking me and my sister. While my sister would dissolve into a puddle of remorseful goo at the first slight contact; I had more of a “Bring It” attitude. Eventually my mother learned that charging me money for bad behavior and docking my allowance would keep me in check but that’s a story for a different post.

So, when I made that little deal with myself about not having to exercise unless I wanted to, well; suddenly I wanted to.

As I laid in bed last Monday, enjoying the holiday by doing absolutely nothing, I reminded myself of my goal to get back to the gym twice that week… and of the fact that I had two evenings left to do so. Pretty much, I had no choice. I had to go that night and the next night.

Bratty little Kendra rose up in defiance.

But, then I made that deal with myself and with the knowledge that I didn’t have to do anything at the gym, the idea of going was much more pleasant.

I packed up my bag with everything I’d need for either a good run or a good lazy session in the hot tub. I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do yet. Once I got to the gym, though, and felt the energy of the place, I knew I was running.

Or maybe walking.

Or maybe just putting my feet on the treadmill for a minute.

As is my habit, I set the goal time for 20 minutes. I always do this, usually adding five minutes at a time toward the end of my run until I’m up to 35 minutes. It feels less daunting to see less time left in the run, even if I know that I’m probably going to add the extra time in any way.

As I started my usual five minute warm-up, I put on an old playlist. Engulfed in the sound of Uprising by Muse, I felt an electric sort of intoxication and decided to do at least a few running intervals.

“Kendra, remember, the first one never feels very nice. Just get through it and the second one will feel better,” I told myself just before I started running.

I was wrong, though, it felt amazing; as did the next, and the next. Pretty soon I was doing the exact run that I hadn’t felt like I could do a few days ago. Well, not the exact one, having expected to only walk when I first stepped on the treadmill, I was actually going faster on my walking intervals than I ever had in the past. This was quickly becoming the fastest and hardest run I’d ever done.

And then it got hard.

“It’s no big deal,” I told myself, “I only have to do what I want to do tonight. I can stop if I feel like it. I did what I came to do, I’m reclaiming my space.”

THAT is when the defiant little Kendra, whose “Bring It” attitude baffled her mother, came to life again.

“No, I’m not stopping. I’m pushing and I’m making it through to the end!”

Fueled on not much more than my anger and defiance, I pushed myself though to the end. When running got hard, I pulled strength from my determination to not be defeated. As the last interval came, I decided to continue my old tradition of increasing the speed .5 mph just to see what that next level up felt like. It took everything I had to continue at that pace for 60 seconds and when I was finished I could have collapsed in the overwhelming emotion I felt.

Heaving through my cool down, I thought I might quite literally collapse but I made it all the way through.

True, I had run in Los Angeles. I had also gone back to my gym, but the run in Los Angeles was an abbreviated run and my first trip back to my gym was just to be there. With this run, this oh so hard run, I felt like I was actually claiming back my strength, my space, my fitness, and the joy of what my body could do.

Despite my soreness and exhaustion over the next few days (it might not have actually been the smartest idea to start again so fiercely) I felt really good about that run.

Next to tackle: Strength Training.

Let’s keep on keeping on.

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