I’ve been running a lot lately. It’s been good for me for a lot of reasons. I had originally planned to run a full marathon again this fall, but there just wasn’t room for that in my life this year, for a whole lot reasons. After this was put on the back burner, though, I found myself a little lost. That’s when I made the decision to start trying to improve my speed, as I’m not nearly as fast as I would like to be.
So this past week I’ve started cutting my distance back a bit, in favour of concentrating more on speed. I won’t lie, it’s been tough, since I’ve come to rather enjoy my slow-and-steady paced morning runs. And let’s face it — pushing oneself physically like that has a tendency to kind of suck. However, I’ve been able to push through those “this sucks” feelings to focus on my goal. I’ll never be speedy, I’m just not physically built for fast running…but I want to be able to say that I’m “fast for me”. I have a certain time goal in mind that I would like to work my way up to hitting pretty consistently. If I can do that, I will be pleased with my progress and feel like I’m getting somewhere.
This morning I headed out for my usual morning run. I could tell in the first kilometer that I was feeling good (thanks to a deep-tissue massage earlier this week) and so I decided to push myself to see if I could hit that goal of mine. I run with a running program on my phone, which gives me an update every kilometer, so I can know how well (or not well) I’m doing.
And so…I pushed myself. I kept that goal planted firmly in my brain. Every time I thought about slowing down, I pictured that particular number in my head. I knew if I could just hit it, then I would be happy with my progress for this particular run.
As I was coming up on my “finish line”, I heard the smug female voice of my app inform me of my time. I missed my goal. By thirty-six seconds.
I’m pretty sure that I swore right out loud when I heard that. So close…and yet so far. I won’t lie…I was pretty disappointed in myself. I wanted to hit that particular goal. Badly. Anything less felt like a complete failure.
As I continued on with my run, however, I thought more about this. The time that I reached, though slower than I ideally wanted, was still pretty damned good. Especially for a “slow” runner like me. I have definitely made progress from where I was just a few short months ago, which I can see from my increasing speeds.
And then I heard a little voice in the back of my head. A voice that asked me what I would say to one of my girls if they encountered the same thing. And what would I say? I would tell them that progress is progress…and that it should be celebrated. That goals are nice to have, but they shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all to something like this. That when it comes to running, the joy is in the experience, and that I shouldn’t discount an otherwise great morning run because of a measly 36 seconds.
Sure, goals are great to have, but what happens when we don’t quite meet them? We have to celebrate the process. We have to enjoy the moments leading up to that finish line. And I’m not just talking about running here, either. In life, if we boiled everything down to either goal achieved = success or goal achieved = failure, then life would be pretty miserable indeed.
I still plan on keeping my eye on that goal. But you know what? Until I get there, I’m going to enjoy the journey. It’s what life is all about.
I refuse to allow my joy to be swept away by thirty six seconds.