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.

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Life Coaching Really?

Why would anyone need a life coach? We’ve all been alive for some period of time, living, having a life, and we’ve done it all by ourselves. What would compel someone to want a coach to help them do what is done automatically just by getting out of bed every morning, making it, however successfully, through another day, and retiring again at night?

Firstly, have you really been doing it, life, all by yourself, up to this point? No, not really. In the beginning, there were your parents or other caregivers, perhaps daycare providers or preschool teachers or other family members who helped “coach” you safely through the early years. As you reached school age a procession of teachers stepped in and other school magnates assisted your parents in coaching you to adulthood.

Many of us, at one time or another, actually had people referred to, technically, as coaches, in school or club sports opportunities, and their role was to assist us and guide us and encourage us to perform to the best of our ability, at a certain sport or game.

Once in adulthood, for some, college provided some coaching, for others vocational training, the military, or employment experiences provided us with a form of coaching, the leadership and guidance necessary to hold a job in a certain field or industry.

And while teachers and employers aren’t technically life coaches, they do provide, to some degree, some of the benefits that a life coach does; assistance in setting goals, the encouragement to work successfully towards those goals, and they requested from you a  certain accountability in making measurable progress towards those goals. This was evident in your progress from one grade to the next, in winning that Little League game, that volleyball tournament, or in being awarded that college sports scholarship.

As an adult, we still often look to coaches to help us learn or progress in sports, leisure pastimes, and athletic pursuits. Who has ever had a personal trainer show them the ropes on the gym equipment after signing up for a membership? A yoga instructor who made sure your knees weren’t too far over your toes in a warrior pose? A golf lesson?

I saw in the newspaper the other day, a woman designed a yoga mat with the foot positions to the most popular poses “printed” on it. At first it may seem a great idea, but when I think of the number of times, in a single yoga session, that the instructor adjusts or corrects some part of my pose, for my benefit, or even for my safety, I have to wonder about the wisdom of a do-it-by-numbers approach. Even the home yoga instruction videos provide some verbal cueing to the proper position and execution of the poses to avoid injury and the get the utmost benefit from the practice.

So, here you are. Are you making it through life with a do-it-by-numbers guide? Sure, lots can be gleaned from books, blogs, magazines, YouTube, but are you getting the personal guidance, the encouragement you really need to identify and work towards your goals? Is there someone there to help hold you accountable for what you’ve started? Or can you just roll up that do-it-by-numbers yoga mat and shove it in the closet when you get a little lost, confused or discouraged?

I ran my very first marathon last winter, as an adult, as a “seasoned” adult. This is not something I did completely on my own. In an effort to follow through with my oft questioned, somewhat crazy goal, and in an effort to avoid injury, I joined a running club, with dozens of coaches. I ran with my running club for two years, learning the right way to run, the proper form, nutrition before, during and after running, warm up and cool down stretching routines. The club follows a time-tested training program, progressing in both speed and distance as prescribed by the coaches. I adhered to the advice of the coaches along the way, on each and every run, on my individual work outs and in my race. I now enjoy running, totally, where just a few short years ago, had you asked me, I’d have said, simply, and with a bit of a scoff, “I don’t run.”

That’s where a life coach may make all the difference in the world. A life coach can help you get from buying your first yoga mat to striking a perfect warrior pose, but in life. A life coach may get you from lacing up your first pair of running shoes to completing a 26.2-mile race, but in life. What are your goals? How much progress have you made toward them this week? This month? This year? This decade? Would a coach help? Yoga, running, or life, you bet.