Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Incremental steps lead to monumental journeys

I was chatting with a good friend, James, tonight about mutual friends that are running their first marathon this May. I remember when they first started running and how they insisted they were comfortable in the 5-10k range (hubby and I had done a half marathon by then) and didn't really care to do much beyond that. I am so proud that they have completed a handful of half marathons together now, and they are tackling their first marathon.

It reminded me of my own running journey, of how in my 29th year I set a goal to do something spectacular for my 30th - run a half marathon. It didn't faze me that I had never run before - they have clinics that teach you these things. I was not particularly athletic in school (I quit rugby after I got kicked in the face). But I had a goal, and I went from a "Learn to Run" clinic, to a 5k clinic straight into a half marathon clinic with the help of some great running coaches.

Out of the 120+ runners that showed up each Sunday morning to run the slow and steady distances, I was always the last one back at the clinic. I wasn't as consistent with the Tuesday/Thursday practice runs, which ultimately affected my performance, but I enjoyed the Sunday runs and the satisfaction of knowing that after each run, there would be some tasty pancakes or a breakfast burrito to celebrate. I developed lasting friendships with people who were literally by my side for each step.

One of the clinic leaders, Chris, stayed with me for the entire half marathon training and race day. I was my own pace group because I was so slow... But life isn't about being the first to cross a finish line, and I ran that race with a smile on my face, singing ditties, and I had gusto and energy left to continue after the 13.1 miles. Yes, my feet hurt and were bleeding. Yes, I was waiting for my pancakes. And yes, to this day I still say that I have the endurance of a full marathoner - I ran, albeit slowly, for 3 h 34 minutes or some such number. All I knew is that I was going to finish the race, and I didn't care if I had to run, jog or walk. In my 29th year, I redefined myself as someone who had discipline. Who was athletic. Who was determined. 4 days before I turned 30, I crossed that finish line with a smile!

During our chat, James said this about running and his own experience: "I always thought you had to be some kind of genetic freak. You just have to commit to it. Like anything in life. A great lesson!" James went from being a non-runner to an IronMan triathlete.

What I love about James' comment is that it is so true. We have to envision our goals and fully commit to them. A resolution isn't going to mean much if you don't fully commit, neither will working with a life coach if you talk about your passions but never pursue them.

Are you fully committed to the person you envision yourself being? Are you committed to doing the work it takes to get there? It can be hard work at times, but I've heard that anything worthwhile is worth working for. And maybe you'll sing a ditty or two along the way, or smile as you pass people who are happy sitting on the sidelines of their lives.

It's the incremental steps that lead to the monumental journey. What direction are you headed in?

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