Commemorating the fight and the flight

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember than an airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”   — Henry Ford

On Dec. 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made history. “Wright Brothers Day,” as it has come to be known, commemorates the first successful flights in a heavier-than-air, mechanically propelled airplane.  These two innovators demonstrated not only their ability to create an aerodynamically stable flying machine, but also their perseverance against much more resistance than simple wind resistance.

When we embark upon a new goal that seems to be more than daunting, as these aviators did, resistance is to be expected along the way.  Sometimes it comes in the form of critics, those negative-energy-filled individuals who will try to tear us down and convince us that the hardship of the task is simply not worth the effort.  Often, however, the biggest stumbling block is within our own heads. 

When the task at hand requires an untapped physical resource, such as trying out a new sport, we can surely expect fatigue, sore muscles, and even the occasional lack of motivation and internal drive. We may even attempt to push ourselves through series after series of new workouts, innovative racing strategies, strength training concepts, all in the name of conquering our goals.  What happens when that drive hits the wall, so to speak, and we find ourselves engaging in a battle of wits between our head and our heart? 

This is when Henry Ford’s words must resonate.  Our bodies and souls have become the Wright Brothers’ airplane, hitting unprecedented wind resistance, and yet successfully finding a way to achieve lift-off, to rise up in spite of the wind, and begin to soar to new heights.

 As we celebrate this amazing day in our history, I am proud to report that last weekend I succeeded in completing my very first 5K. Having made the commitment to a friend and to myself back in August, I set upon a training program of running three times a week for nine weeks. Those of you who know me as a successful bodybuilder can attest to the fact that I am not, under any circumstances, an elite runner!  In fact, while still teaching, bodybuilding, and training clients, finding the time and energy to fit these running modules into my schedule was anything but simple. It seemed that with each passing day, the resistance was building instead of breaking down.  How, I asked myself, was I going to conquer this challenge?

Eventually, after much soul-searching, I became that airplane.  Training only outdoors, in spite of weather conditions, and altering my meals accordingly, I met the wind head-on.  Hills, chills, and an utter lack of experience no longer stood in my way. Like Orville and Wilbur, I persevered, believing in the challenge and doing all that I could to make it happen successfully.  On Sunday, Dec. 13, in the rain, Henry Ford’s words echoed over and over until my plane achieved lift-off at 7:45 a.m. That first mile was topographically uphill, and the third mile was most definitely against a 12-13 mph wind.  Energy was becoming depleted, toes were getting numb, but at last: The Finish Line appeared.

I was shaking after crossing that line, whether from nervous energy or a bottoming-out of my resources I am still unsure.  The run had been completed in less time than I’d dreamed possible. However, one thing will remain in my mind forever: the moment of takeoff and the feeling of soaring into the wind, into the challenge, achieving the goal, then trusting the safe landing. 

As 2016 creeps ever closer, I encourage you to find a goal and become the Wright Brothers.  Know that at times the wind will be against you; but build your wings out of strength, faith, and inner fortitude, and soon you too will be commemorating your own magnificent flight!