I’ve delayed writing this post because some technical difficulties have prevented me from announcing one of the projects I’ve been working on. Stay tuned for more info on that.
When I started the 31 Days of Blog Awesomeness I didn’t think much of it. I just figured I’d answer some questions people ask me all the time anyway and share some of my thoughts on motivation, goals and success. It’s been a great journey. At the end of this post I’ll put a link to a summary of all of the 31 Days as a reference.
I ran Cross Country in high school. I wasn’t a terribly gifted runner but I was never the slowest on the team either (if you include the girls). I did Cross Country for two reasons. 1. My older sister ran and since it was the first sport of the season when I entered high school I figured it would be easier to get a ride home with her so I may as well run too. 2. It was a way to get in shape and lose weight for wrestling. Distance running has a lot of opportunity for life metaphors. Let’s explore a few.
One of my coaches taught us that although every race was 3 miles and ended with a finish line it was important to focus on visible goals. Run hard to the farthest tree, then run hard to the light pole, then run hard to the turn, etc. This works for life too. Who doesn’t want to be rich and have millions in the bank. Sometimes it’s good to set your mind on $100, then save hard to $1,000, then save hard to $5,000…
Some courses had a lot of turns and so we were taught to look forward and pick the most direct route through the turns thereby needing to run a lesser distance and conserve energy. I think about how we were taught to ‘apex the turns’ whenever there seem to be a series of obstacles that need to be overcome. Look forward through them all and chart the most direct route.
We all know our bodies need water to function and in running that means avoiding cramps and having better endurance. In life staying hydrated means remembering to take in the things that feed our soul. We have to keep ourselves emotionally hydrated so that when a tough hill comes along we have the stamina to reach the summit.
Never Look Back
My most memorable race was run on a rainy day in the middle of nowhere complete with enough mud to last a lifetime. I got a decent start and after some bumping and elbowing (in self defense of course) I found myself at the front of the pack. I ran hard, but never looked back. I could hear the footsteps of somebody right behind me. From the sound of it they couldn’t have been more than a couple strides behind me. It pushed me harder and I ran my best race that day. When I reached the finish line and finally looked back I was surprised to see nobody remotely close. I had been hearing the sound of my own feet echoing off the walls of the desert hills. When we know our goal, we’re well hydrated and things are working out there’s no need to look back. Push forward. Stay focused. Win the race.
In one of my first distance races in middle school I laid back a bit too much and when it came time to surge I had plenty of energy but not enough time to catch up to the leader. I lost the race only by a few strides but I hadn’t even given it my all. I learned that day that you’ve got to pace yourself just right and avoid going out too hot and burning out or too cold and falling behind.
Sprint to the Finish
If you reach the finish line and you’ve got more left in you then you didn’t do your best. Once you see the finish line in sight it’s time to muster up all you have left and sprint to the finish. I’m always surprised at how often good projects get abandoned so close to completion. If you’ve paced yourself right you should have just enough energy left in you to let lose and finish.
After my great win where I never looked back I got a bit cocky and went out hot in a race with a lot more runners. I forgot the pacing lesson, or at least learned the other half of it, and after leading for the first half of the race I got winded and fell behind. As each runner passed me and I fell farther behind I got more and more discouraged and wanted to quit. My bruised pride fought back and told me to finish. I pushed through to the finish and still placed well. You may not always be first, but if it’s a project worth finishing it’s your duty to get it over the finish line.
Know When to Quit
By my Senior year of high school I had decided I no longer wanted to run. I wasn’t dedicated enough for it to be a successful year for me. Instead I organized an official Men’s Volleyball club for the school and made new friends and great memories. Sometimes it’s time to quit a project. Be strong enough to know when you’re not committed to the success or that the project is no longer viable and be willing to quit. If you chose to quit you must do it because it is right, not because you are tired or lazy or some other lame excuse. To repeat the above line if the project is worth finishing it’s your duty to get it over the finish line. If it’s not worth it anymore, quit now before you waste any more time on it.
There you have it. The end of the 31 Days of Blog Awesomeness. Here’s a link to the summary of posts.
I’m not done with this blog, but I’m done posting every day for a while.