The Next Mile
Part of my reason for taking this photo was procrastination. I was already feeling tired after a quarter of a mile and I doubted my ability to finish today's six mile run. Last week when I attempted the same distance, I couldn't finish. I later realized I had a stomach bug, but this morning I began to suspect that the real reason I didn't finish is that I'm just not capable of running this distance yet. It was an interesting journey to find out the truth.
Running is mental, right? And we don't grow if we don't challenge ourselves. So I refocused my mind on just getting through the first mile, one step at a time. I tried to maintain a strong cadence, partially as a distraction and partially to give myself a strong start.
Mile 1 | 10'10''
Okay I'm doing this thing. If it gets too difficult I can make it a four miler and head home early. The sun is shining. It's a perfect temperature. There aren't too many people on the streets. I'll just try to have fun.
Mile 2 | 10'00''
So far, so good. It's not as hard as I made it out to be. I've still got lots of energy and I feel encouraged. I'm almost a third of the way there but I'll need to save some strength for the last half.
Mile 3 | 10'03''
Almost halfway. I can definitely do this. The guy behind me is closing in but I'm impressed with how long we've gone without him passing me! [Then he passed me.] Wow, he's even carrying a backpack. But he has long legs so it's only natural for him to go faster. It doesn't matter anyway, I have to run my own race. And this is not a race!
Mile 4 | 10'37''
Why did I even decide to start running six miles at a time? What was wrong with four miles? Four miles were nice. I knew I could finish four. Ugh, I can't afford to think like this. I'm almost through four, and I feel certain I can finish five. I'll worry about six when I get there.
Mile 5 | 9'59''
If I speed up I'll get home faster and I won't have to say hi to the police officer on the bike another three times as I make my way through his patrol area. He's very kind but I'm sure he's tired of running into me too. I'm starting to believe I can do this.
Mile 6 | 10'24''
One step at a time. Almost home. This trial is almost a triumph. This has been a really hard run but I think it was easier than the last three. I wonder how it will feel in a few more weeks.
I finished. My average cadence was 27 steps per minute faster than my last run so that refocusing at the start really paid off for setting a good pace! I hope some of you can relate to this struggle and will join me in pursuing a really challenging, but worthwhile goal.
This post serves as a reminder to me that when I don't feel up for the challenge ahead, I'm more likely to overcome it if I set one small, achievable goal to get started. Once I decided to focus on finishing the first mile, I felt motivated and I wanted to see what more I could do. My emotions changed a lot throughout the run but there was always another small, achievable goal to focus on and get me through the next mile.
I plan to keep running six miles at a time, three to four times per week through the end of October. What's your current fitness goal?