Most people approach change the way men approach sex: a sprint to the finish.
It’s only natural to want to get where we want to go as fast as we can.
Perhaps that unavoidable terminal that lurks in our future fosters this urge to finish as quickly as possible.
We must get there before we run out of time.
That is also why we often fall short in our challenges, diet plans, workout regimes, and New Year’s resolutions.
We are aiming for the finish line.
But the person who crosses the finish line is always different from the person who started the race.
When we get there, we can’t stop doing all those things that got us there and go back to being who we were before.
“In eight weeks, I’ll be sexy.”
“In two years, I’ll be rich.
“When I get there, I’ll be happy.”
And then, what?
We’re not all in the same race.
Some of us aren’t even running in the same direction.
So, there’s no point judging our pace by looking at other people.
When a wall or a river crosses the path, we all tackle them in our own way. Some people are better swimmers, while others can race up a wall like a gecko. Others are swimming upstream.
When an obstacle crops up, the best we can do is tackle it on our own terms, at our own pace. Trying to match pace with someone in a different race or different strides will only tire us out.
We can give help and get help, but taking it in our own stride also means realizing that other people aren’t obliged to help us either.
It’s your race when you take everything in your stride.
And running your own race is the only way to win.
Sometimes all it takes is a word and we feel out of place.
It casts such a long shadow of doubt over our plans that we decide to rearrange them completely.
We abandon our race.
But there’s a difference between listening to a coach’s advice and running someone else’s race. And the best coaches will tell you to always run your own race no matter what.
Even Usain Bolt can’t tell you how to run your race.
So what if someone thinks you’re going too slow or even in the wrong direction.
The best we’ll ever do when we run someone else’s race is silver.
We might not always win when we run our own race.
But we always have a chance.
Scrapping the participation medal is a great idea. Losing is a prize.
The greatest thing about playing sports is winning, and the same goes for any competition. After all, that’s the point.
And the next best thing to winning?
Losing is the next best thing to winning because it means you were in the race.
People who have been forced to the sidelines are often delighted to lose because they finally got a chance to win.
And if you have been in with a chance for a while, losing usually means you’re a step closer to winning.
Another lesson learned. Another hurdle crossed.
Losing sucks. But it’s a lot more fun than spectating.
It’s funny how things we hate often become part of our personality.
For better or worse.
Running, or anything faster than a brisk walk, was never very appealing; the last resort to catch a train.
It didn’t seem very dignified, especially how I was doing it. I didn’t go very far or fast and did get very sweaty, which was embarrassing. But over the last six years, running has become part of my life.
Starting a run is never easy. But something magical happens about a mile in, when your body has finally accepted that you’re not going to stop.
The rhythm of your heart pounding gently and the sigh of your lungs sucking long, deep bagfuls of air; arms swinging almost of their own accord, all to the gentle metronome of your feet hitting the ground.
Everything becomes part of that movement, that directed dance.
Head up, putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again just to go where we want a little faster. And by sheer force of will, doing it longer than any other animal on the planet.
Nothing could be more human than that.
Training for a marathon is very different from what people expect.
The biggest surprise for most people is that you only run a marathon once — on race day.
The next surprise is how little running you do. 15 minutes one day. Thirty minutes a few days later. Some days are short bodyweight workouts. And some days are dedicated to lying on the floor and stretching.
We don’t have to run a marathon every day to get where we want to go. We shouldn’t even run every day.
Time spent rolling around on the floor and stretching is as crucial to running a race as putting one foot in front of the other.
Recovery allows us to keep working towards our goal, even on days we can’t think straight, let alone move fast. And that little bit of extra time we spend quickly adds up.
Allow yourself a little recovery time now and then, and you’ll go much further in the long run.
If you’ve never heard of David Goggins, whip out your dictionary and look up the word “indomitable,” and you’ll find a picture of him.
David is the guy that gets back up.
He completed the infamous SEAL “Hell Week” training twice. Then he completed Ranger and Air Force training, too, literally for the hell of it.
He’s run over 60 ultra-marathons and triathlons and broke a world record with 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours.
My record is eight pull-ups in 3 minutes.
He once finished a 150-mile relay race designed for four BY HIMSELF on a broken ankle.
What keeps David going beyond limits and then much, much further?
David runs on pain.
The story of his childhood is heartbreaking. But he crushed that hurt into a fuel cell that drove him to greatness.
In his words, “When we transcend what we once thought possible, your light enables people to see the contours of their own prison; their self-limitations.”
David runs 100 miles because he can.
But he can run 100-miles because he turned his pain to gain.
A few years back, I surprised myself by getting into running and discovered something strange.
There’s a race for masochists down in Tennessee called ‘Big Dog’s Outdoor Ultra.’ It’s a four-mile loop that you run until everyone else drops out. This year , Courtney Dauwalter, ran 283 miles in just under 72 hours, non-stop.
Running an eternal loop seems crazy, but many competitors say it’s easier than running a ‘standard ultra.’ 2018’s winner said, “Because there’s no predetermined finish, you can’t think in terms of ‘how many miles do I have left? It’s always just the next loop, the next loop, the next loop. You’re never overwhelmed by what you have left to run because you simply don’t know.”
Strangely, setting a ‘finish line’ can be detrimental to growth, especially when you’re just getting started.
The best thing you can do is choose a direction and focus on putting one foot in front of the other; running today’s race as best you can.
Worry about tomorrow when you cross that starting line.