Running is a challenging endeavor. Just knowing what faces you can be daunting — and that’s before you even get out the door. Before you even begin, you know the exhaustion and aches that wait for you. You recall with some displeasure the stitch in your side that you ran through the last time or the way your shoulder hurt by the time you were finished. But, despite getting up before six and wanting to simply crawl back into bed, you put on your running gear, lace up your runners, strap on your tunes and head out the door.
You set your goal and start out easily enough — you’ve done this enough times that the first bit is easy. You settle into your routine and slowly pick up pace. You move along, feeling the rhythm of your feet striking the ground. Your breath comes easily and steadily without effort. Things are moving along at a good pace and your mind drifts to the myriad of thoughts that you normally don’t have time to think about.
But sooner or later (hopefully later) that moment comes: the moment when you notice the shortness of breath and maybe the stitch in your side or the ache of your knee. Your mind is pulled from it’s meandering as you check where you are in the course of your run. Discouragement hits when you realize you still have some way to go before you reach your goal.
Now it’s getting difficult to draw in a decent breath, your feet are starting to feel heavy and your mouth is dry. You’re forced to slow your pace, but that’s difficult since it throws off your rhythm. You check your course again.
The goal is nowhere in sight.
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
You feel your feet fall into place in an ever-slowing rhythm and you lose track of where you are, concentrating only on taking the next step and trying to breathe. For a moment you think that maybe you won’t make your goal this time. Maybe you simply can’t do it. You wonder if perhaps you should just stop — it would be so much easier. Easier to be done with the struggle, easier to simply rest.
But you don’t stop.
Now your only thought is which foot to move next: one more step and then the next. Your throat aches and you have a stitch in your side. Your pace continues to slow and you desperately check your course again. And then you see it:
The goal — you did it.
I think some things in life are like running. The course to some goals is filled with difficulties and struggles. At first you manage them — you’ve faced a few things in your time and you know yourself well enough after all. But sometimes the discouragements of set-backs and sheer exhaustion make you question the goal. You wonder if it’s worth it. More than that, you don’t know if you can actually make it. It would be so much easier to simply stop. After all, no one could keep you from quitting if you really wanted to — no one could make you keep going.
But you don’t stop.
At some point, though, it comes down to simply putting one foot in front of the other — just do the next thing and then the next, and then the next thing after that. All you can see is the next step. Not the goal, just the step.
You’re exhausted and ready to be done. Then, suddenly, you look up and realize you did it. It wasn’t fun and, sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but you made it.
And you know that feeling that you get when you’ve reached your goal? Well, that’s why you ran in the first place.