When strong is the last thing you’re feeling – by Becca Obergefell

becca

Becca Obergefell works at Ohio Dominican University as the Assistant Director for the Center for Student Involvement. She started running after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and hasn’t stopped – running 365 miles in 365 days. She has participated twice in the OneRunForBoston cross-country relay from LA to Boston to raise money for the victims of the bombing. Her #RunForBoston project created a community for runners to log miles after the bombing – eventually totaling 4,449 runners and 35,545 miles. Becca also enjoys yoga, scuba, reading, and writing. Connect with her on Twitter @OberBecca

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When I selected a deadline for my #SAFit blog post, I didn’t realize that it coincided with the Boston Marathon, but it seems fitting that it does. The 2013 Boston Marathon changed thousands of lives, mine included. There are things that happen in our lives that affect us deeply and profoundly, and yet are completely beyond our control. Sometimes they are beautiful and exciting moments, other times they are tragic and isolating.

I started running after the Boston Marathon was bombed last year. Lots of people did. When I saw how many people were doing it, I created the Run For Boston website for us to log our miles together as a show of support for Boston and to create a sense of community for ourselves. For some people these runs were a way to hold onto something that the bombers tried to take away. Others used those minutes and miles as a place to send up prayers, memories, and remembrances. Some ran because it made them feel in control of something when it seemed the rest of their world was falling down around them.

Whether it is a national tragedy like this one, or a personal struggle – grief can feel suffocating, isolating, depressing, and consuming. When we lose a loved one, cannot find a job, end a relationship, battle a disease, wait for an answer – it can feel like we are fighting a losing war against the world, growing weaker by the minute. It’s in these moments that we would give anything to feel strong, anything but defeated.

Maybe you are fighting one of these battles right now. Or maybe you have been here before. At one time or another, we are all in this place. And though it never feels like it when we are in the midst of it, the burden will eventually lessen and we will be able to breathe again. While we are fighting though? We are growing stronger.

For me, a lot of this strength has come through fitness – running, yoga, and lifting. Each of these is about more than physical power: they are about building endurance, resilience, and capacity.

When I started a Couch25K program last year, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to for five minutes without stopping, nevermind 5K. I ran my first Half Marathon in October.

When I started practicing yoga a year ago, I thought I was flexible and would be the class superstar. Learning to breathe and quiet my mind has been one of the greatest physical challenges I’ve taken on. (Along with the Crow & Firefly poses!).

When I started the campus faculty/staff weight training program in January, I was hoping to “tone up” and lose a few pounds. Two weeks ago I did 43 (real!) pushups in a minute, bench pressed 75 pounds, and did 46 squats.

In each of these different areas, I have learned to dig deep when it gets difficult, summoned strength to push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, and found joy in it all. Again and again, our bodies and minds surprise us .

There will always be days when the challenges before us seem absolutely insurmountable, when we think we can’t possibly face another minute of our struggle. It’s in those moments we remember the strength it to push out that 12th rep or to breathe through that warrior pose when our whole body is shaking. When the world seems to have taken everything from us, we have these memories and muscles to draw on. The hours we spend training our bodies are hours we spend investing in ourselves, building strength for the days when strong is the last thing we’re feeling.

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