I’m the type of person that prefers tidy endings. I like it when a story wraps up neatly at the end. I use that same preference quite often in the stories I choose to tell: I don’t like to share them until they have a neat little bow wrapped around them, with all the details in place.
This post, then, is a departure from the norm for me. It’s about a story that is still in process.
To bring you up to the current point as briefly as possible, I’ve been running off and on since high school. I started because I figured it was the quickest way to shed a few pounds, and I was right. Once I started, I realized I enjoyed the challenge of it, and I adored the hard-to-quantify feeling of “being in shape.” So I kept at it. (The need to run increased dramatically as I found the “freshman 15” in college, that just didn’t want to go away.)
Fast forward many years, and multiple seasons of running regularly, then not, then back at it, etc. The ebb and flow of my fitness seemed to naturally coincide with not only the busyness of life but how that busyness managed to impact the priority I placed on exercise.
After a couple years of highly inconsistent exercise, I decided it was time to step it back up at the beginning of 2017. I set my sights on the lofty goal of a running pace I had achieved after months of practice in my late 20s when my pant size was smaller and lung capacity larger.
Fast forward to now
Since that time, I’ve been reasonably faithful in pounding the pavement multiple times per week, save for exceptions like being out of town, and the occasional day (or week) when I let the laziness or doubt and fear in my head keep me on the sidelines.
Just this morning, I completed an eight-week interval training program (it only took me 16 weeks! ;)) that excruciatingly takes the user through guided running and sprinting workouts. I’ve used it in the past to shave some time off my pace and opted to employ it again to attempt to blast through the pace plateau in which I had found myself. What follows is the motivation to write this post.
Just a few weeks ago, I did a three-mile run where I came within 14 seconds of achieving the overall pace goal I’ve been working towards for the last year and a half! I was unbelievably amped! Then the next run I did, despite my best efforts, I logged times like I was doing at the beginning of the year. Buzzkill.
Even though I realize after months of logging my times that they fluctuate wildly, I still allowed myself to be discouraged by an average run on the heels of a record run. The head games took over, and I didn’t run for almost two weeks. (Granted, I was doing other exercises, but I was avoiding running because I was spooked.)
Today, I finished the last run in the interval program and was reminded afresh that I need to keep pounding the pavement with gusto if I want to achieve my goal. It is truly remarkable how going for even one run can help push through the emotions that fight to keep me from getting after it.
I’ve been working towards this comeback story long enough to know that the moments of record-breaking victory are infrequent, and they come hard-earned on the back of countless average days, where I choose to show up and do the work that lays the foundation. The mountaintop is breathtaking on its own merits but made even more so by the dramatic contrast of the valley below, and the grueling climb it takes to get there.
If like me, you’re in the middle of hustling for a goal (fitness or otherwise), I hope you’ll be encouraged by this. Don’t let the average days be the end of the story. Push through the sweaty, unremarkable portions of the journey and get ready to celebrate the sweet view from the top. Each step gets you closer. I’ll keep taking steps if you will.