The Inner Winner

Yesterday I went for Torture Club. Torture Club is a circuit training workout hosted in Muyenga on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings (6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.). It’s a really great workout for strength training. I have not been to Torture Club for a while now. Partly because of travel. Partly because I have been doing other forms of exercise in preparation for climbing Mount Rwenzori.

One of the first things you see, on entering Ricardo’s compound, which is where we do Torture Club, is a chalk board where he lists all the exercises for that day. As I looked at the blackboard yesterday, I noticed that last on the list of exercises we were to do were hill sprints.

I hate hill sprints. I dread hills sprints. I generally dread running. Because I led a sedentary lifestyle for quite a long time – almost twenty years (with very intermittent exercise during that period), I get quite easily winded by the slightest of exertion. And running takes a lot of exertion on my part. To make matters worse, the hill where we do the sprint is quite steep. The hill is tucked away near Hotel Diplomat in Muyenga. For those that know the area, when I say steep, you know exactly what I mean. That hill is both steep and long!

The first few times we did hill sprints, I could barely run, let alone sprint up the hill. I would do a half skip, half walk. Not yesterday. Yesterday I decided to push myself. I decided that I was going to runPush up the hill no matter what. When we do the hill sprints, half the group runs up the first half of the hill near the bottom, while a second group runs up the second half of the hill, near the top. After five minutes of running up and down the hill, we switch places.

Yesterday I decided to do the harder half first – which is the half near the top of the hill. It is much steeper. I ran up as fast as I could and my did my chest burn! I ran up the second half three times. I did five sprints up the first half, and this is more than I have ever done.

As I ran up and down that hill, I remembered that long ago, when I was about seven or eight years old, I took part in a running competition in a school I attended in Canada, and I actually won a gold medal. Looking at me now, as I huff and puff up the hill, you would never tell that I have a gold medal under my belt. But I do. And as I ran up and down that hill yesterday, I focused on the gold medal I won in my childhood. I told myself if I could do it then, I can do it now. I have it in me, I am a winner.

I still don’t like running – at least not yet. But I was happy with myself yesterday because I pushed myself. I called to the ‘inner winner’ in me, and ran with all my might. I know with practice I will get better, I will get faster. One day my chest won’t hurt as much when I run. I will not get so easily winded. I have decided that there is no going back to the sedentary life. Not on my watch! I may never win another gold medal in my life, but I will run like I am going for gold. I will wear my winner mentality all day, every day.

There is simply no other way to live. Especially if I want to scale mountains!

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