Why You Need To Do Something That Scares You, This Year

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“Sometimes the greatest rewards in life come from doing the things that scare you the most”


It’s 5:00am and my alarm goes off. It happens to be one of those annoying sounds; you know the ones that make you think you should be placing the oxygen mask securely on your face, after assisting your children with theirs, of course. The kind of sound that could never possibly start your day off right.

"What the F*#k!!?" I say out loud. "Why did I set my alarm for 5:00am?" 

Oh yeah. Last night as I snuggled into my warm, cozy bed, I thought it would be a great idea to get in a morning workout. Get it done before the sun comes up, I think. It will feel so good, I think. It’s the only time of day that’s free, I think.

But Frick. I want to get out of bed and hammer out a workout about as much as I want to spend the day getting a pap smear. Just. Plain. Do not.

I hate early mornings. I grew up a swimmer, and for those that know swimming, you know that early mornings are a major part of the sport. I spent my high school and college swimming career getting up at the butt-crack of dawn, shlepping myself to the pool (in several feet of snow—on a bike, in college; another story for another time), and freezing my ass off getting into the pool to chase the black line for an hour and a half. Not to mention, I am just naturally a night person. Party all night, sleep all day. That’s just me .

But I am in training.

At age 46, and mother of three kids aged 15, 14 and 11, all I really want to do these days is drink wine and watch Bravo TV.  But no, I am taking on my second half-ironman distance race (70.3 miles of swim/bike/run glory) in August in Traverse City, Michigan. And because of those three very busy kids who need to be Ubered all over creation at any given moment, and a small business to run (that my kids like to call my “little job”), I have no choice but to get in some early morning workouts.

Why am I doing this? It’s the question I get the most, usually accompanied by a wrinkled up nose, like the thought of it sends a pungent smell into the air. Geeze, people, I didn’t fart, I’m just taking on a challenge. And there are lots of different reasons why people choose to take on physical and mental challenges.

My husband, John, is a 5 time Ironman finisher. And not just finisher; a crusher. He set goals and wanted to crush them. He wanted to push himself to his limits and come out on top to see what he is capable of. There is an incredible amount of growth that comes from hard work, set backs, endurance and resiliency. For me, at a time in my life where I find myself slipping into a complacent middle-agedness, a physical challenge that requires a major process to get there is just what I need to grow as a person.

(John finishing the 2015 Mont Tremblant Ironman)

I gave up a big career to be a housewife many years ago.  For 14 years now, I have been raising 3 kids and only doing things I wanted to do when there was "extra" time.  Hahaha! That's the funniest line in this thing.  My life became about everyone else. It also became quite comfortable, and in comfort comes stagnancy.

These races don’t scare me—the race is the fun part.  But the training scares the living shit out of me.  Nine months of hard, committed work, where my favorite past time of procrastination will only bring me a gigantic public ass kicking come race day. It's simply not going to fly in this situation.  

But I want to accomplish something for myself. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. I want to physically and mentally hurt and overcome. I want to conquer. All because I want to grow.

And perhaps my favorite thing these commitments to tough races do, is teach my kids what hard work looks like; what dedication looks like. And when they are at these races on the sidelines cheering, the pride in their faces is unmistakable. I have seen them with tears streaming down their faces as my husband crossed the finish line at an Ironman. Tears, because they were a part of this process that took hard work and perseverance, and tears because they are so moved by the victory that comes with it all. Tears, from usually self-centered teens because, shit, they just witnessed an amazing journey of someone they love and they couldn't help but be moved. 

(Me, finishing the 2017 Half-Ironman in Muncie, Indiana.  Slightly different atmosphere)

All three of my kids are athletes themselves, and we spend alot of time telling them what and how they should be doing things to find success.  Work harder in practice. Don’t complain. Give it your all. Push yourself to your potential. Be tough. But the sound they hear loud and clear, is the sound from the example that is set every time mom or dad commit and accomplish. Every difficult thing they see their mom and dad do inspires them to become the best they can in their own endeavors.

You simply can’t teach in any way better than by example.

So whether you have kids watching you or not, if you haven’t done something that scares you recently, pick something. Tackle it in 2019. Maybe it’s your first 5k, maybe it’s an Ironman distance triathlon, maybe it’s finally beginning weight training to get the body you always wanted or losing those few extra stubborn pounds. At Endurance Apparel, we know that endurance is in the eye of the athlete. It doesn’t matter how big or small the race or the goal is to anyone else. It’s not the distance of your race that makes it a big deal, it’s how much you grow as a person in the process. So get out there, pick something hard, and do it.


Tell us what you're going to do in 2019 that scares you, in the comments below. 

Continue to follow me and my family in our athletic endeavors by following us on Instagram @enduranceappareltshirts and on facebook at EnduranceApparel.

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  • Dave Bartels on

    Kudos to you, Pam for doing the Ironman! I think it is an excellent idea. I am Pam’s second cousin and 20 years her senior. I also competed in high school and college (track and cross country). Like Pam I raised kids and worked. But I did not take the time to work out like I should, and am now paying a price, health-wise. So for those with kids at home or in their 40s………do it now, get in shape. It is tons harder after 55. I know.

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