Here's the story of one of the most important lessons I learn in life. Throughout high school, I played basketball. I went to a small private school, and our entire basketball team consisted of 7 girls. It takes 5 to play, so we often had to condition ourselves to play the whole game without much time on the bench. We would go up against teams that had 15 players on the bench waiting to get their few minutes of playtime, and I remember being on that court, sweating, exhausted, gasping for breath and seeing the opposing team sub out their entire team at once with a fresh team to play against. We didn't have a large team and quitting wasn't an option for us, we had to push through, keep playing, continue running back and forth. I learned a lot about not quitting in those games. 

I had an incredible coach, Pam Leake, who played on the UNC women's basketball team. She pushed me harder than any coach out there, and I learned some crucial things from her. One of them being; that your mind will quit a million times before your body ever will.

One practice has always stuck with me; it was drilled into my mind because I hated every minute of it. Running suicides was on the list, and we usually spend a few minutes during practice running them.

If you're not familiar with them, this is where you run to the first line, touch it, run back, run to the second line, run again, etc. So it's a whole lot of sprinting back and forth. Torture for anyone who hates to run.

None of us enjoyed this, but we did it anyway because we knew that if we had to go against teams that could sub out every few minutes we had to train on being able to sprint back and forth and endless amount of times before that last buzzer went off.

After the first couple sets we figured we would be done, but our coach had something else in mind.


"And Again!"

Those words were repeated over and over again that day. I got to a point where I didn't feel like I had one ounce left to push forward. I remember thinking after every single set; "this is it, I CAN'T do another set", to hear the dreaded "AGAIN!".

I don't know how, but I kept running.
I kept pushing forward.

After every set, all I wanted was to crash down to the floor to sit down to catch my breath and give my legs a break. One of the rules we had was that we weren't allowed to sit down. You were allowed to hunch over, throw up from pushing yourself so hard, lean on teammates for support, but you weren't allowed to sit down.

Sitting down wasn't an option.

She wanted us to learn how to rest, not quit. Take the time to slow down, but never stop to sit down because when you allow yourself to sit down, even for a minute, you just made it 100% harder for you to get back up and push forward. So if you feel exhausted, and think you can't take another step forward, learn how to rest.

We kept sprinting back and forth on that court, exhausted. Then my coach walked over to us and gave us some words of wisdom. She told us how we felt like we couldn't possibly take one more step for the last ten sets, but we did. We got out there and pushed past ever set in front of us. She told us that our mind was the problem and that there was a massive difference between what our MIND thought possible, and when our bodies were actually ready to quit. She explained to us that we have to push our mind forward and that by doing so, we can push past any barrier we put in our way.

She was right.

Those words have stuck with me since, and I know two things;

I know how to rest, not quit.

And that my mind will try and quit a million times before my body ever will.

You see, you're no different than me running on that court. You're sprinting towards your goals every day, and there will be days where you feel exhausted like you can't take another step forward into the right direction because it's too hard. Or feel like every time you're doing good, you hear those words "AGAIN!", wondering at what point you'll be able to be at the top and take a nice long break. It's tiring, and I get it, but here's a little truth.

You can do this. Push forward.

If you feel exhausted, learn how to rest, lean up against a wall, but don't let yourself stop. Walk slowly if you have to, but take that next step. Your mind and body are two different things, and the truth is that most people have no problem physically pushing themselves forward, but have a hard time pushing their mind forward.

You are 100% in charge of your thoughts and can use your mind to motivate you forward. This little lesson can be applied to all aspects of our life, and I hope you realize just how powerful your mind is.

October 11, 2018 — Elena Ringeisen