When I turned 40 I decided to start running. I figured instead of looking back on all the things I haven't done, it would be more productive to choose one of those things and do it. Part of my process was to look at all the reasons I had never run before. Most of them were obvious: A) It's hard. B) It's hard. C) It is really, really hard.
I then tried to look past these reasons to figure out the ones I could more easily solve: A) It hurts my feet and my knee. B) It's too cold/hot outside and I don't have time. C) I'm too fat; I don't want people to see me, which eliminates running outside or at the gym. I found solutions to these problems fairly quickly. New running shoes helped a lot, and a little ibuprofen at first. I bought a treadmill so no one would have to watch me strain, and I could fit in my runs (mostly walking) without leaving the house.
But then I was back to square one: running is hard.
I am not good at doing hard things. I know this because I have, occasionally, tried and given up. I have always required some natural ability at a thing in order to continue, and running was never my thing. I have accomplished other things, like playing the piano, serving a mission, graduating from college, becoming a mom. But none of those things ever made me simultaneously want to throw up, scream out in pain and cry all at the same time. Running has.
When I decided to start, I started out slow - like one minute at a time slow. I figured I could do anything for a minute. And I could. I did. But in truth, it was hard. I can remember counting down the last 30 seconds of every minute I ran. Gradually I worked up my intervals to 2 minutes, then 3, with an 8 to 10 minute walk in between. I still didn't love it. I never "got in the zone" and forgot to stop, but every minute I gained was a victory. I was taming my beast and it felt good.
In retrospect, running has definitely improved my health. But maybe more importantly, it has improved my attitude toward hard things. A few weeks ago I ran every step of my first 5k. I feel it is one of my biggest accomplishments, ever. Not because it is the most important thing I have done, but because it was one of the things I was least likely ever to do. And by doing this hard thing, I know I can do other hard things as well. Which is a powerful thing to know!