I am feeling a little scared right now. A few years ago, I was overweight, obese really, and I decided to do something about it. So I set a goal to get back to my weight in high school. I worked hard, and started to get into running; as I approached my fiftieth birthday I had a crazy idea. We have a marathon in our town, not just a normal marathon, but the Pike’s Peak Marathon. This marathon not only goes on for 26.2 miles, it also features the added bonus of running straight up Pike’s Peak, the summit of which is at 14,115 feet. As if that wasn’t bad enough, competitors then turn around and run down the mountain. The total elevation gain during the race is 7,815 feet. I decided that I would set this race as my goal.
I have one little problem; that goal is more or less insane. Three years ago, I had never run further than maybe a few miles. I played sports as a kid, but running was never my thing. Sure I ran short distances, but never anywhere very far. How do I expect to get this done? The truly frightening thing right now is that I just looked at the race’s website, and there in the list of runners is my name. It’s official. I paid the money, and I am expecting to run the race in August, except right now I don’t feel like I can do it!
Do you have one of these crazy dreams? Maybe it is something you have long hoped for your child, or a life skill you are hoping they can one day master. Do you ever find yourself in the mood I am in right now, telling yourself, “There is no way this is going to happen?”
I fall into this mode way too often. I spend far too much time looking at my big crazy dreams as a whole. When I started running, a co-worker who runs all kinds of crazy races offered me a few tips that have made a big difference for me. First, she told me never to increase my distance by more than ten percent of my last run. Some days when I go out for a run, I feel like I could run farther than I ever have. The point is that if I try to go a lot longer than I have in the past I am sure to get injured and face a major setback. It is better for me to be consistent than it is to make one giant push all at once. I will never make it to my goal that way.
Second, there are days I have to give myself a break. I am getting older; I just can’t do this everyday. Some days I can’t manage to get myself up to the work. Taking a rest is ok, as long as I get back to it the next day. Some days I just don’t want to go for a run, but I do it anyway. I notice that after I start often my attitude changes for the better. More times than not I get to the end and I can chose a smiley face on my tracking app. Forcing myself to start is most of the battle; or at least, most of the mental battle.
Third, celebrate the little wins. Every step further is worthy of a praise, every foot in front of the other is a gift, no matter how small. It may not seem like it today, but if I look back at the last three years I have come so far. Today, nevertheless, as I am looking at this big goal in front of me, it doesn’t seem like I have come far enough. We have to take time to think about just how far we have come; it can give us the strength to take the next step.
It can be hard to see progress in the everyday. It can feel like we have been doing the same things without results. But it is in these moments that we need to stop, pray and remember the small steps that got us so far.
I also realize that I may never reach my crazy goal. There are so many factors that can affect my success, many of them beyond my control. If I do fall short I will be disappointed, but I will also smile and look back on all the little wins I had along the way. And I will thank God for the journey.