On Encouragement

A Beautiful Work In Progress, Chapters 5 - 8

Posted Thursday, November 11

As we read these chapters about Valerio's introduction to running and her evolving relationship with this community throughout her life from early childhood, through high school and into her early adulthood, one common theme that stood out to me were the people who cheered and encouraged her at each step of the journey. We read about her high school field hockey coach, Ms. Harrop, who sees her grit and pushes her to see the potential inside. "I make it hard because I want to see if you're up to the challenge and if you're willing to do the work. From what I can tell, you're willing. Keep at it and finish." (pg#53) Ms. Harrop says in a short line that helps shape Valerio's entire relationship with running. That grit to finish becomes engrained in who she is. Her field hockey teammate, Kristina, further encourages her to try to get better at running "so they don't suck at field hockey" and runs with her. The little things that are said and done that we wouldn't think twice about can be incredibly impactful.

Sometimes the encouragement comes a little more indirectly though. We see her become inspired to take up running again by the Central Park runners while she studied for her masters and balanced a job at a museum. The gracefulness of those consistent runners makes her want to be like them.

In other times, it's important to actively seek the support you need if you don't see it around you. At one point, Valerio gets too busy to run between caring for her newborn, moving to a new city, and the demands of her Spanish teaching job, but after a health scare, she returns to the running community with a renewed motivation and is embraced with open arms (virtually at least) by her TIN Soldiers 365 group that she found and greater Facebook community of her connections.

At every turn, if you are seeking, you will find someone to push you, encourage you, and inspire you (even if it's through a running-based book club). In certain instances, you are the inspiration in more ways than you may be aware of, like the central park runners. Other times, you find yourself running alongside the very person you wish to encourage. Many of you mentioned in your responses to the first two blog posts people who have cheered you on or challenged you to run. We all know those people and we all are those people. So, this week, let's be grateful for those who have driven us and seek out opportunities to do the same for others.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What small bit of encouragement that someone gave to you has stood out to you along your journey in running and walking?

  2. Who do you lean on to hold you accountable on the days when you don't feel like running or walking?

  3. In what ways do you encourage those around you?


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