It’s a tradition in the Brenneman family to run the “4th of July Race” in nearby Altoona, PA, a 5 or 15k distance. The race is put on by our YMCA and serves as many things – an opportunity to see and talk to people in the community I don’t otherwise see (I live a few hours away from home), an opportunity to spend the first part of a great day with my family (we follow up the race with breakfast) and, equally important, it provides an opportunity for me to test myself – physically and mentally.

I’ve done a great deal of speaking and interviews this past year, and I’m often asked, “What makes a great day?” I’ve boiled it down to a handful of daily components, and two of the most important are: 1. testing myself mentally and 2. testing myself physically. Sometimes they go hand in hand; sometimes they don’t.

This 4th of July race served as both, thankfully (I was spent after running 15k/9.3 miles!). We arrived at my parents house the day before the race, and, to be honest, I had completely forgotten about it. Life is much more occupied these days with growing a family and a business, so my mind is often laser focused on one or the other. Unfortunately, the race had slipped my mind for a variety of reasons. My one brother was out of town, my sister is newly into raising her own family, and my oldest brother was joining his young family in a very friendly 5k pace – none of which contributed to the Brenneman boys fighting for 15k supremacy (of which I won the last time we raced!).

Around 5 o’clock on the 3rd, as we were laying around the living room, Amanda asked my parents, “Is anyone running the race tomorrow?”

“The race!”, I shouted. “Yes!”

Due to the 4th festivities, I had already planned on an intense training session, so why not run the race? 5k wasn’t enough for me (I had just come back from the beach; overtime was doubly needed), so I immediately committed to running the 15k.

I hadn’t run 15k (9.3 miles) in two years, but that didn’t matter. I train hard regularly, and I know what my mind and body can do. I would crawl to the finish line if I had too. I was committed, and, therefore, I was ready.

It wasn’t until mile 2 that I realized what I had gotten myself into. See, I don’t know how to just enjoy a race or competition. I only know how to push so hard it feels like my heart is going to burst. I wasn’t racing against anyone in particular – save a girl in her sporty running gear, a guy named Jake whose family cheered him on, a guy who was breathing as if he were climbing Mt. Everest and 50 other people whom I passed, or passed me – I was ultimately racing against myself.

I’m an above average runner at best, so winning this race was not an option. I didn’t care. I saw this 15k as an opportunity to test myself physically and mentally. Youth is a wonderful thing, and as we age, it’s often times easier to give up than to keep on fighting. There will be a point when I, and all of us, can barely make it up the steps, but I’ll be doggoned if I don’t fight tooth and nail to make it up those steps in record time!

Push yourself mentally and physically everyday. Commit to something before you’re ready.

This week’s happenings:
  • I am 2 weeks into the second group of my online course, A Fighter’s Mindset. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. If it’s something you’ve tossed around, but are hesitant, I’ve created a self-directed version for less than half the price. I am happy to talk with you via phone to answer any questions you have – 814 204 2245. Please click here for course options.
  • Driven: The Spaniard Podcast is coming soon. Keith (my mentor who helped me publish my book) and I are finalizing the details. The show will be an in depth exploration of my blog topics.