After 45 fairly sedimentary years on planet earth, I have decided to start running. My wife has been running for a few months, and is feeling (and looking) better than ever. She ran in a 5K race last weekend and had a great time. All of this has inspired me, and like a fool, I decided to enter a 5K race with her that is one month away. So, for the last 5 days, I have left my house and ran. Guess what I have discovered?
Forrest Gump I am not. I hate it. Really hate it. It combines some very unpleasant things like physical pain and a discouraging lack of proficiency. I have been running a path around a pond in my neighborhood and back home - probably a third of a mile. The first day, I had to stop running and walk to catch my breath 8 times. The next day I had to stop 7 times. Today - 4 times. So, I'm making progress, but it still sucks. I burst through the door each time huffing, puffing, wheezing, and groaning so loud that it literally frightens my children.
But you know what I am liking? The metaphor. My staggering, stumbling attempt to be a runner is just like some of the other challenges I am facing in my life. Challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable. Situations and relationships that cause substantial pain. And, I'm not talking about temporary discomfort like burning lungs or a hamstring cramp. I'm talking about real pain. "I'm not sure I can get through this" pain. Deep, emotional, heart-wrenching pain. Do you know what I'm talking about? I bet you do.
Here's what the pain in your life has to do with running. You really only have two choices: Quit or Push Through. It would be a lot easier to stop running and get back on the couch. But the psychological and spiritual toll that quitting extracts is far worse than any physical pain I'm going to endure. So here are a few things I've learned in my first week running:
Just keep moving. Running is better than walking, but walking is better than stopping. Keep some level of momentum, because objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
Measure your progress. I've been timing my "runs." The first 5 trips around the neighborhood pond took me 10:56, 10:32, 10:08, 9:50, 9:26. I'm getting faster every day. Seems like only a little bit, but I'm 12% better than I was on Sunday. (What are you 12% better at than you were last week?) Progress creates hope.
A few of these mornings have been really cold. I only notice the temperature, though, when I slow down and walk. The faster you're moving and more you're focused on completing the task at hand, the less circumstances bother you.
My wife is cheering me on all the way. Any difficult endeavor is infinitely easier when you have someone encouraging you. Seek out those people.
I still don't feel like a "runner." I feel like a clumsy, out-of-breath doofus. But you know what? You don't have to be a runner to run. Just like you don't have to be a fighter to fight. You don't have to be persistent to persist. Act like that thing you want to be and see if you don't become something different over time.
In what areas of life are you working hard to push through? Keep pushing. Just keep moving. I know it hurts, but quitting isn't the answer. There are few things more painful than regret. Like Andy Dufresne said, "Get busy living or get busy dying." Hang in there and keep me posted on your progress with your relationships, your goals, and your life. You can do it!