The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 24: Don’t Quit Before you Start
In March, I found out I had won the lottery for the 2017 New York City marathon. I was ecstatic. Having been involved in distance running since 7th grade, this was beyond a dream. I’ve always wanted to run a marathon but the timing was never right with my training schedules for school cross country or track. Some unforeseen health issues also knocked me out of running for a couple years and I really wondered if that dream was unattainable. Fortunately, I was able to start running again in August 2016 and as I watched the NYC marathon in November, I knew I had to get there.
I was walking to the park on Saturday morning for a long run, finishing a phone call with a friend, when I finally explained some nervousness about training. I told him I was afraid to really “start training” because that meant I was really going to try and I was too used to handicapping myself.
I read an article about this recently. It talked about how so often we set ourselves up for failure so that if we don’t do well, it doesn’t seem like a reflection of ourselves – more of our circumstances. For example, if I was going to run a 10K race with a friend, I would go in and talk about how my right knee has been bothering me since I fell last week and that this might not be my best race.
That does two things. In the event that I don’t run as well as I think I should have, I have an excuse – I had already given up before I began. I had already justified the failure with the knee injury. Conversely, if I have the race of my life and PR, that gives me an even greater “from the ashes” story. Not only did I have an incredible race, but I also did it with a hurt knee.
It’s a very human nature thing. It’s also a very detrimental thing. I don’t know what I think I’m going to accomplish by constantly selling myself short and not giving myself the opportunity to prepare.
I told my friend I was nervous to do my research on marathons and nervous to commit to something that I could still fail at. Of course, I was still running every day, eating healthy, cross training, and doing all my normal “good health things.” But something as simple as putting a label on it, “I’m training for a marathon,” made me a little nervous.
I hung up with my friend and started my run. Long run. Run until you can’t. At mile three I lost my footing and went careening into the asphalt. The ground cut my palms and I could feel the instant throb in my knee. I stumbled off to the side of the path and took stock of the situation. My long Under Armor pants had shielded my knee from a portion of the blow. I leaned against a tree, delicately moving my leg forward and back. Two women came up immediately to see if I was okay and in that moment, I knew I was okay in every sense of the word. I tested my weight on my knee and knew that I had sustained no lasting injury less my sweat stung palms. I looked down at my still running watch. I felt just fine.
I came home and posted the following Happiness is:
Happiness is.. knowing that running - much like life - is just a matter of putting one foot in front of another.
To say I've been a little overwhelmed lately is an understatement. It all hit me Thursday night as I sat on my bedroom floor wondering if I really was in a little far over my head this time. Had I finally bitten off more than I could chew? Was I just letting down everyone? This morning, I went for my first 15 mile run since I had to stop running 4 years ago for health reasons. And it was incredible to realize that there's really nothing to it.. just putting one foot in front of the other.
So maybe that's where I begin now. One step at a time.
Resolution #24: Don’t Quit Before you Start
When I was in 10th grade, our chemistry teacher told us we could make a front and back note card for the final exam. We could write whatever we wanted on it and use it for the test. If we did, we automatically lost 10 points. If you used a note card, the highest grade you could get on the test was a B.
I was debating this idea with my brother when I said perhaps the most profound thing that’s ever come out of my mouth, “I don’t think I want the note card. I don’t want to give up before I’ve started. I want to give myself a fighting chance.”
I don’t want to give up before I start on anything - not on a job, not on a race, and certainly, not on myself. I’m done selling myself short. If I fail, then I fail. But it won’t be because I didn’t try.
Oh and that chemistry test? 96%.