I am a big fan of trying to simplify things down to the most basic level. If you do this, then this will happen. I believe most people try to overthink things. Most to the point that the answer becomes so cloudy and unclear that you never get the answer you are looking for. I am very motivated by a challenge. I do best when I can set a goal and work towards that goal. The best part for me isn’t even actually accomplishing the goal. When I accomplish the goal I have a slight feeling of apprehension. My goal is gone, therefore my motivation is gone and I don’t feel settled.
The journey is what I love. I love working towards a race and adding a mile to my distance each Saturday. Every week I go further than the last and each week I feel good about my accomplishment. Well, that’s the way it is supposed to be anyway. No matter how much we plan and want things to work out it doesn’t always go the way we want.
Sometimes even the best-made plans just don’t work. Sometimes because of factors that we can control (bad diet or hydration) and sometimes because of factors beyond our control (heat index of 105°). I have had Saturday long runs that I planned, mapped out and truly prepared for that failed. One, in particular, I was really excited about. It was going to be my first 9 mile run training for my first half marathon. I mapped a course that took me all over Richmond and I was ready. I had a couple others that planned to run 4 with me and then I would finish on my own. The first couple miles didn’t feel good, but that isn’t uncommon. Miles 3 and 4 I knew I wasn’t feeling it, but had others with me and I couldn’t give in.
Eventually, I was on my own. That’s when things changed. By mile 5 I was toast. The sun was beating down on me and the course I mapped had almost no shade the rest of the way. I was slowly working my way up a hill and I started walking. That was a big disappointment because I had run an entire 8 mile run the week before (with more hills). I knew physically I should be able to do 9. Not that day. The sun took it out of me that day. Those 5 miles felt as hard as 15. I had my phone and calling to get picked up by my wife seemed like my only choice. I knew my “run” was over at that point. I conceded that I didn’t have the energy to run anymore.
I was 4 miles from my car, which was all the way across town, and I knew I was done running. That is where I had a choice to make. Do I call for a ride or do I push on to get to my car? See the numbers at this point didn’t matter. My pace was already a minute or so behind the previous week and it was getting way worse by the minute. My goal of 9-minute miles was not a possibility anymore. If I can’t hit my goal then why keep going?
It wasn’t about numbers it was about effort. I decided that I started the run and I would finish the run. This is the point where I should say that I found the motivation and picked my pace up and took off running back to the car triumphantly. That IS NOT what happened. I walked. I walked in the heat the exact course I had mapped out to get to my car. I went in and out of subdivisions, around parks and eventually made it to my car. I did talk to my wife on the phone. She eventually called to make sure I was OK. I was so far behind my goal time that she probably thought I was in a ditch on the side of the road.
I finished that 9-mile run. I don’t know that you can really call it a run, but I got the miles in. It was ugly. I was the worst training run I have ever had. What I learned that day is that sometimes you just don’t have what it takes to meet the numbers you are expecting. I learned that numbers don’t matter, but effort does. If you will keep at it and put in the effort you should the results will eventually be positive. They may never be exactly what you originally envisioned, but with positive effort, you will always get positive results.
So if you are on a fitness journey, a race training plan, or even a career path that isn’t going the way you want. Don’t focus on the individual numbers when things aren’t going well. Stay focused on putting in the amount of effort that your situation calls for. Give it your maximum effort if needed and be satisfied that you are moving in the right direction.