Laurel Graham: “I’m stronger than I ever thought I was.”
As a kid, Laurel Graham was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and told she’d never be able to run. In fact, running in gym class left her feeling so confused—she couldn’t understand why her legs just wouldn’t work properly or why she couldn’t run as fast as the other kids could. Eventually, her muscular dystrophy progressed to a point where walking became incredibly difficult due to the deformities in her feet and ankles, and the weakness in her lower extremities. She got around by walking on the sides of her feet, but even that was a struggle. So, Laurel underwent bilateral foot and ankle reconstructive surgery and spent the next year and a half getting a feel for her “new” feet and learning to walk again. During her recovery, she would get out of breath from crutching across the room and that’s when she promised herself that she’d get in the best shape of her life once she had recovered.
Laurel set a goal to run her first road race: the Virgina 4-miler. She did it and could hardly believe what her body had done. Crossing that finish line set a fire inside her to keep tackling goals, no matter how big they seemed. Her interests eventually led her to triathlon—a sport she never thought her body would be able to tackle. She is now the proud finisher of multiple triathlons, including an Ironman 70.3. Laurel is currently preparing for her first full Ironman in 2018. She never believed she’d be where she is now, but the moments where she did believe in herself are what got her here.
Laurel says, “Boundaries are meant to be broken, limits exceeded, expectations collapsed. If I can do this, anyone can.”
Laurel inspires me and I hope she inspires you too. Laurel also inspires her dog, Barrett, who contributes to the conversation a few times.
“Pain won’t kill you and I’m stronger than I ever thought I was.”
“I realized that you just can’t care about what a lot of people think.”
“I’ve come to learn that what other people’s perceptions of me are—how other people treat me—that’s not on me. That’s a reflection of them.”
“I bring myself to the moment and I think, you GET to do this. You don’t have to be out here racing today, but you get to. And that normally gets me out of those tough spots and shifts my perspective.”
“I could have everything I want in the world, but if I’m not grateful for that, then it doesn’t mean anything.”
“I’ve realized in my life that I can’t change what happens to me, but I can change my attitude, how I look at it and how I feel about it.”
“I just try to be thankful for all my body can do instead of looking at things it can’t do or looking at things that I want to change. I just think, ‘wow, look how far it’s gotten me."
“When people have perfectly normal bodies and they don’t see how amazing it is, it makes me sad. I encourage them not to look at what you want your body to do, but look at what your body’s done already.”
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- What muscular dystrophy has taught Laurel
- How she uses gratitude to fuel her everyday
- How to visualize your perfect race