This hilarious book by comedy writer and actress Mindy Kaling is definitely "chick lit"; she says it herself. I had no intention of buying it or reading it, although I love her portrayals of women on TV. Even the commercials she's in are funny. But I happened across an article in Glamour magazine while waiting in an office, that reprinted the last chapter with her book's title "Why Not Me?". It was a "Eureka" moment. What she said, I thought, pertained to work situations, relationships, and running. In this chapter she answered at length a question put to her the year before by a young girl asking how she found confidence. At the time, Kaling was tired and gave an answer that was without much insight.
In her new answer in the book, she says confidence must be "earned" through hard, very very hard, work. She recalls a childhood experience in which she had received a trophy at a basketball camp for being best dressed, not for working at improving her skills. Her mother, an ob/gyn (this is why Mindy plays one on "The Mindy Project") took it from a place of prominent display in their home and told her daughter she should not be proud of a trophy given so she would feel bad about herself! Mindy resolved to earn trophies after that experience. Ms. Kaling says now she realizes that in earlier Hollywood years, when she was not confident in her comedy writing for "The Office", she was justified. It took hard work over 11 years in her field to give her the confidence to stand up to judgements about her writing and acting, as well as looks, weight, and celebrity. "Because confidence is like respect, you have to earn it."
That chapter captures the essence of earned confidence in competitive running and walking: it doesn't come easily. There are so many confusing routines (strength training, stretching, foam rolling, warm-ups. intervals, hill repeats, etc) to learn that hopeful participants are likely to be overwhelmed and give up. What Mindy is saying is not to expect confidence at first. Lace up the shoes, follow a training plan, and learn over time the skills and routines you need to compete, like she has done in building her comedy career. It will take a "tiniest bit of bravery" to take steps toward being someone new and doing something new, and persistent hard work. But you will earn confidence. And that's what makes running races, personal or organized, so exciting!
I ran one short "fun run" a year for many years. That can be a derisive term to runners who try to take their sport seriously. But that's what was available to me, and those races weren't fun. If I registered for a longer or more respectable race and tried to train, I developed tendinitis. Somehow it wasn't obvious to me that I wasn't training properly. I had no confidence that I could make it to race day uninjured. I secretly blamed my weight but saw other heavier runners do well. As the years passed it seemed hopeless that I would ever be good at something I really liked to do. But when I did get on the right track, convinced of the importance of all the related routines, finishing near the top of my age group became a realistic goal. I now work more diligently and with perseverance. Each day's work done correctly means I will be prepared to handle the next day's routine without injury, and the next. This is the earned confidence Mindy Kaling writes about. This is fun!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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