In life so many times there are real obstacles. Things that are unchangeable, things that you just have to work around. For the most part though, those things aren’t what hold you back. It’s the little lies that do that for you. Things like you don’t have the ability, or the time, or the strength or the talent.

Come to think of it, I’m not a fan of talking about talent. Because I worship at the altar of hard work. I believe most things can be worked for. You might not get them tomorrow or next week or next month. But most things, if you put in the effort, you will get.

For years I didn’t exercise because I’d convinced myself I wasn’t athletic enough or coordinated enough or I just didn’t have the time. Which was all bullshit really. Just excuses I gave myself. Excuses that I felt like I was entitled to. In part because PE in school was the epitome of all things bullying. It was humiliating. And I spent a whole lot of my adult life avoiding embarrassment or humiliation.

I liked walking and hiking. That was a pretty safe zone for me. I loved the idea of finding as many mountains to climb as I could. But you know what? I never did.

You could say life got in the way. And that’s certainly what I told myself, but really it was just a matter of taking my eyes off the goal. And when you do that, all you see is obstacles.

Then one day I decided to work for it. My initial motivation was pretty simple. I had baby weight and I was in the horrifying position of realising that unlike in my twenties, in my thirties it had a nasty habit of sticking around and I actually had to work to lose it. It’s a strange mix of leaps of faith and baby steps. Going to the gym was a leap of faith because I was terrified of exercising in public. Making the switch to running outside was another leap because I was scared about how hard it would be. The baby steps were committing to it. And the more you commit to the process, the more it gives back to you.

At first I could only run for 400m. The idea of running even a kilometre without stopping was unimaginable. But then you do. And then you run 2.5kms and then 5. And suddenly you are running 20kms OUTSIDE. And people say to you I could never do that. I found myself saying things like, yes you could. If you can run 1, you can run 5. If you can run 5, you can run 8. If you can run 8, you can run 12. If you can run 12, you can run 15 and if you can run 15 you can run a half.

Then one day you find yourself contemplating this: a full marathon ascent of about 1,250 metres even though you have never completed a full marathon.


All of those leaps I have taken and baby steps I have moved forward with have led me to this place. The place where I have a training plan which calls for about 5 training runs per week and 3 strength and conditioning sessions. Training which I have committed to and I don’t cancel on. It’s something I have worked at for two years. That person who wasn’t athletic enough, now has the resting heart rate of an athlete.

Once you commit to the work, it rewards you by continually proving that you can do things that you never thought possible. Less than six months ago I would have thought it impossible to run a kilometre in under 6 minutes but I recently ran one in under 5. When you are doing the impossible, there aren’t that many obstacles – there is just the work you need to do to get you from where you are to where you are going.

And now? Now I’m looking for some mountains. Goals change. Now I don’t want to walk up mountains, I want to run.

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Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. Zoey Dowling

    Great post Zoey :) I love reading how people that are doing things that I consider so amazing were once in the same position I am in. It shows that it really is my choice - I can believe that voice that says I will never get there or I can keep going, taking those baby steps, and one day I will get to do those amazing things too.

  2. Zoey Dowling

    So true. So many of us convince ourselves that there are so many reasons not to do something..... Then you do, and then......... BAw Baw look out! X

  3. I can relate to this post so much. Serioulsy - you are my hero. I worship at the altar of Zoey - future ultramarathon runner and superstar extraordinaire :)

  4. I've had the awesome pleasure of following your journey.. From injury to barefoot and merrells to trails and trials and tribulations - well done for determination it make you all kinds of totes amaze

  5. Love this Zoey. Very inspiring & powerful. Go you! X

  6. Zoey Dowling

    You are a crazy, amazing lady!! A total hero! Cannot wait to follow your progress