I have been looking for inspiration for my next blog, and just like I assumed, all I needed was a good run to get my creative juices flowing. Ironically, my run is the subject of my post.
I tore my hamstring last August. A severe grade 2 tear. To anyone out there who wants to try and learn how to water ski after 35. Word of advice - don't. Trust me on this one.
As I settled back into life post-injury, the thing I missed the most was running. I used to say that running was my therapy. A good run could help me sort out issues, work through problems, and come up with great ideas. I REALLY missed pounding the pavement, but I knew I had to be patient and go through the process. Rest, rehab, repeat. For months. And after a few months I could sloooooowly start running again. 2 minute jog then 5 minutes then 10 minutes. I finally worked back up to a good 32 minute/3 mile jog over the next couple of months and I thought okay, I am BACK. Watch out world!
I decided I would start adding a mile a week, because that seemed reasonable, right? But I couldn't seem to get past 3-ish miles. I would occasionally experience an odd pain in my hamstring and have to stop. Or I would feel tired after just a mile or two. I would always run out of gas around 3 miles no matter what. For someone that averaged 15-20 miles a week, has ran a dozen half marathons and has completed 2 full marathons, this just wasn't good enough for me.
In the midst of all of this, I started reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud titled, "9 things you simply must do to succeed in love and life." And I just completed a chapter that quite literally smacked me in the face during my run. Talk about perfect timing.
Wanting it now keeps you from having it. Yep - good things take time. Ugghhh, but I want it NOW.
We live in an instant gratification world. We go on a diet and exercise for a week and can't understand why we haven't lost 10 pounds yet. We start dating and after a handful of dates wonder why we haven't met "the one."
Good things take time, but we don't want to give it the time to go through the process. Because like Sweet Brown said, "Ain't nobody got time for that."
In his book, Dr. Cloud describes how successful people work. They achieve their goals by taking many tiny steps towards their goals over long periods of time. It is the method used by anyone who has ever accomplished anything substantial.
Things grow one little bit at a time, and it all adds up.
Have you ever watched ants work? Their little bodies can only carry one grain of sand or piece of dirt at a time. But they are persistent and consistent with one hell of a work ethic. And piece by piece they build these large ant hills. Even the Bible recognizes the work ethic of the ant in Proverbs, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; Consider her ways and be wise!" – Proverbs 6:6
Being consistent and persistent in pursuit of your goals, while allowing the process to occur, will get you where you want to be.
And so on Tuesday morning, I set out for a run. I didn't want to set a lofty goal that morning and just end up disappointed, so I said I would try for 3 or 3.5 miles and see how I felt. Well at the 1.5 mile mark where I would need to turn around to complete a 3 mile loop, I felt good. I kept running. I logged another mile to get me to my turn-around point. Worst case I would walk back. But I didn't need to! I ran 5 miles without stopping to walk. Not even once! As silly as it sounds, I wanted to cry tears of joy and gratitude. I had finally broken through the plateau!
As I eased into my work day, I thought about the ant.
Much like the ant, I built my endurance back run by run. The 2 and 3 mile runs where I got frustrated and had to walk at times, I was still building up. I just didn't give myself enough credit at the time because I wasn't at my goal. But then, one random Tuesday morning, I was.
What are you working towards? Do you feel like you have plateaued in your progress? Do you grind day in and day out and feel like you aren't making progress? Keep going. Anything worth having is worth working for and it takes time. Of course it is often more time than we would like, but it's all part of the process.
We must enjoy the journey and relish the small changes we see. They will add up. Then one random day you will arrive. The scale will hit the magic number, you will hit that workout goal, you will nail that work presentation, you will achieve that goal you have been working so hard to attain. And it will happen all of a sudden, but remember what it took to get there.
People often like to say "Never forget where you came from" and I think that can apply here as well. It doesn't matter what you want or where you are. Start today. Let today be Day 1 for a new goal, a new venture, a new journey. Just be reasonable in the time it will realistically take to get there.
And if you are mid-journey, just keep going. Stay consistent and persistent and focused on your goals. The time will pass and one random Tuesday morning, you will hit your goal line too. I am cheering for you.