During the winter term as part of our two hour P.E class at school we had to run a 5K cross county course. This involved leaving the school grounds and running through several fields, one of which usually contained cows!

Normally after a brief warm up the girls would set off first then five minutes later the boys would set off.

On the first lesson, I set off with the rest of the boys in my year I made sure I was in the front group. I had been studying Judo since I was ten so I considered myself to be pretty fit. I mean come on I was attending two hour classes twice a week with lots of press ups, grappling drills and other conditioning let alone the actual sparring! How could I be anything but? So when I started to slip back from the front group I just thought "Ok so I'm not the fastest, no problem the other guys are taller than me so you know, they have longer legs and stuff. That must be it."

Thing was as I continued along the course more and more people passed me and by now my lungs and legs had started to burn. This was starting to get HARD, really HARD.
By the halfway point I was at the back of the pack and struggling badly as I watched the last of the girls disappear into the distance.

When I eventually finished that first run I was tired, dirty and gasping for air. Not only had I missed the end of the lesson but it was halfway through the lunch break. My P.E. teacher was pissed, and all the other kids pretty much laughed and pointed as I walked red faced and sore into the diner hall.

Later I was told that from then on I would start as soon as possible before the girls. Basically the teacher set me off as soon as the class started with hardly any time to change let alone warm up.

Now I'd always been taught from a young age that you have to fight for everything, and earn what you wanted. My parents didn't have great jobs; they didn't own their own home and my brother and I rarely had the newest toys or trainers or all the other "cool, must have" stuff as they were too expensive.

And so after that first "Walk of Shame" I decided I could not let my fitness be the reason for coming in last. If I was last because everyone else was better than me, then fine. But even the kids that smoked were faster and that just didn't sit well with me.

From then on every day after school I would get in, drop my bags off, get changed into my kit and run that course. At first I hated every minute of every meter of every mile. It was cold and wet and horrible.

But as the weeks rolled on slowly I started getting faster, soon after a few weeks I was starting to come in with the girls. So I was allowed to start with the girls, which meant I dropped back and started coming last again but I was improving. By the time Christmas came round I was coming in at the tail end of the boys group.

Then in the February I started with the Boys! I still wasn't that fast so I came in amongst the girls again, but now no one laughed or pointed. Everyone could see the improvement.

Around this time one of the smokers asked me if I wanted to use the short cut that they had been using.
Well that really annoyed me. There was no way I would ever cheat at something like that, it just wasn't the way I was brought up and wasn't the way I looked at life in general. But it did at least explain how they had been so much faster than me to start with.

I never came first in the cross-country but I ended the winter term around the middle of the pack, which was still pretty good from where I started. And I'd regained the respect of my peers.

I was reminded of this part of my life while talking to other affiliates at the TFW Summit this year when we were chatting about overcoming life's obstacles and how sometimes the person with the most talent gives up the quickest when they find something they're not good at straight away. And that it's usually the person that consistently works at something that is able to overcome these obstacles. One of the things that struck me was how all of us there for the weekend had a story like this, we had all had some kind of obstacle be it physical or mental and we had all worked hard and pushed ourselves overcome them.

So instead of quitting every time something is hard or difficult if you can "Get Comfortable being Uncomfortable" and consistently attack that problem you too can overcome anything life throws at you.