Going the Distance

A Tough Run

I ran today. I’m not new to running. I’m not particularly good at running, but I enjoy running. I love the cardio aspect, I love being outdoors, I love challenging myself to become better, faster, to have more endurance and stamina. My favorite little run is a six mile rectangle. All flat. It begins at a “dog park” and loops past a neighborhood, along a major thoroughfare, up a frontage road along the famous Highway 29 in Napa, then back along a rural, vineyard lined road, down along the neighborhood, again, and to the park. It is truly, mostly, a lovely run.

Today, it was grueling. I can’t believe I went, first of all, and I can’t believe I ran the full six miles. I was up late last night, up early this morning, and spent the day conducting an eight-hour training session a la conference call via the web. I ate breakfast and lunch at my laptop on quick breaks during the call. And, somehow, I managed to lace up my shoes, walk out the front door to my car, and drive to the dog park and park. Then I ran, into a strong wind, which, somehow, always seemed to be a headwind, for six miles.

Normally, when I run, based on the coaching I’ve had over the past few years, I run for five minutes, walk for one minute, run for five more minutes, walk for another minute. Whether I’m running three miles and twenty-six point two miles, that’s how I do it. When I’m having a tough running day, I focus on making it just five more minutes, then I walk my minute, drink some water, kind of regroup, then make myself run another five minutes. Before long, I’ve run the entire distance I set out to run.

Today, the five minute increments were too much to fathom. I really didn’t want to give up on my goal of six miles, especially once I made it to the far edge of my route. Walking three miles back to the car was not something I was willing to do, I was determined to finish the six miles at close to my “usual” pace of about ten minutes per mile.

I read a book on running and mindfulness recently, “Zen and the Art of Running – The Path to Making Peace with Your Pace” by Larry Shapiro Phd . The book focused not only on running, but on mindfulness. I am a student of mindfulness, a proponent of mindfulness, and a practitioner of mindfulness. I truly believe that mindfulness is a large part of healing, health, and happiness. The author recommended several ways to be mindful while running. One way he suggested, I employ regularly. Rather than let my mind run amuck and focus on petty little thoughts and distractions, I count my steps. It may sound a little O.C.D., but it is a tool. For the first half of my run, I count when my right foot strikes, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and then I begin at one again. Halfway through, I switch to my left foot. Why? Because I think I may also emphasize my cadence with a slightly exaggerated foot strike with the “counting” foot and I want to be sure that is balanced so as not to cause undue stress or injury to one foot or leg over the other. It’s just a method to ensure even distribution of exertion and energy. It works.

Today, during my tough run, with the five minute increments seeming interminable, I decided to focus, instead, on the ten count as an increment. Every ten count completed was a minor triumph, an accomplishment, and ten whole strides closer to my goal. It worked. I ran the full six miles, my pace was close to my usual and I was so pleased with myself for managing the full run.

This is how we sometimes must manage our goals in life. We need to break them down into manageable chunks, measurable bits, that reinforce our efforts positively. My goal today was to run six miles. When that seemed unmanageable, I broke it down into five minute increments. When even those five minute increments seemed too much, I broke it down even further. The result? I met my goal. Success.

What are your goals? What goals are you struggling with? What goals seem unmanageable? Do you need some guidance in going the distance? Do you need some insight into managing your goals, perhaps breaking them down into manageable chunks? I understand, I’m sympathetic, I get it and I am here to help. It’s what I do. Life coaching. Going the distance.

To find out more about life coaching and how it may help you “go the distance”, check out our website – Life Path Life Coaching – or fill out the contact form below for a free, no obligation, consultation.