New Year, Same Me

This is always a strange time of year. It’s wonderful and full of joy, but for me it’s often full of stress. Figuring out finances, looking to see if I need to reevaluate my life and dreams, and also processing: is it actually winter? It’s 82 degrees outside…


No but it is a little strange as a marathon runner. My schedule used to fall easily in line with the school year. I was a student then worked with students so summers were always the busy seasons of travel and work, winter break was always that, winter break. Now my winter break was work, spent a week training at 7500ft, still put in some 2-a-days and spent a lot of time focusing on my upcoming race. It’s different as a marathon runner. Your year never runs exactly the same. You pick a couple of races throughout the year and your work schedule revolves around that. People are talking about new healthy resolutions and you’re sitting over here thinking I’m so ready for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

But there are things I still think of. I still reflect on this last year and think of what this new year will hold.

If you would have told me 5 years ago this is what I would be doing, I would have laughed in your face. The last year has been life changing in many ways. It’s brought me down a path I’ve only ever dreamed of and yet still had it’s share of hardships.

It’s funny as I sit here, legs being compressed by these funky boots, I never thought of what sacrifice comes with chasing dreams. I never realized the work put in that no one sees. I thought it was so glamorous and fun. People never show you the nitty gritty, the days you cry, the days you doubt, the days you fail, the fear. I find myself often looking to these other pros and they seem to have it all together. They’re living the American Dream. Then I stop and think, what do people think of me and my life?

From the outside it always easy to look like we have it all together. We have those perfect pictures, social media that shows all the good, we all have so much crap we don’t need. We look like we’re great.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life and what I’m doing. All the hard work is worth it. But a lot of people don’t see the days like yesterday, when I’m running 1.5 mile repeats and have to stop because I’m overheating and exhausted. People don’t see the tears when my depression slips in and consumes me. The days like Tuesday when I lie on the bed with Lola, tears streaming down my face because of the loneliness I feel and doubt I have.

Yup, the good days, we see the strength, the confidence, the joy, the relentlessness. We see the fighter. The overcomer.

But in order to be an overcomer there is something you must overcome. There is something you must fight. There is a reason you must not give up.

I’m constantly trying to grow, to improve. I mean think about it…I’m an athlete, we’re constantly trying to beat ourselves. But I also realize that this growth doesn’t come just at the beginning of the year, it comes all throughout life. It’s the days we sit on our beds and cry. It’s the work days that we seem to fail. It’s when someone tries to tell you you’re not good enough. It’s the days when you sit helpless in your room giving it to God, saying, “only you can do this, I need you”.

This time of the year as we all reflect, no matter our schedules. I’m reminded that in order to see change, I must be an instigator of that change. I’m constantly fighting the battle of looking good and being real. I love being optimistic, but also know that life gets hard. It’s messy and also there is the very real battle of depression. I would love to say I have it completely under control, but I don’t. My heart is joyful, but there are days my happiness is not present. It’s in these moments I must stop and reflect. Why? Why do I feel called to this? What's my motivation? In my heart of hearts I know it’s more than winning a race or running. It’s sharing this journey, this battle I’ve faced with depression and anxiety and how God has helped me and is still helping me heal. I want others to find the freedom Christ gave me. I’m reminded to share my journey, the good days and the bad.

I love love love goals. I am very goal oriented, but I love when we set these goals more than just at the beginning of the year. Maybe that’s because my schedule doesn’t fall that way. But why settle to set goals just at the beginning of the year? Why not set goals all year around? When life gets hard our goal is to push through. When we want to give up, we keep going. When we’re prompted to throw in the towel or when failure happens we don’t give up hope.

My hope is that we can let hope be our goal throughout our lives. Now that’s a goal!

As I write this though, I’m reminded that we are human. The new year allows us to reflect and reevaluate. But it also reminds me that when I want something to change I must be a part of that change. So I do commit this year to being more honest. To sharing the good and the bad. To actually continually use my story like I’ve dreamed. To share my journey as a runner and coach. To be vulnerable, not to pat myself on my back, but to provide opportunities for others experiencing a similar journey-you are NOT alone. In many ways I hate social media, but I want people to see the real me. The one who struggles, the one who laughs, the one who falls, but the one who gets back up. Because isn’t that what we all really want: authenticity? So I’m still Jo. I’m just committing to share that more consistently and to be the fighter I know that dwells within me.

Jo ButlerComment