I took the above picture during the 2014 Speedgoat 50K in Salt Lake City, Utah (my husband ran the race, although I love to tag along with my camera). Seeing it again reminds me of the old adage, the best view comes after the hardest climb. In fact, Joe and I visited a youth cross country camp a few weeks ago, whose team shirts bore the same saying. Their coach chose the theme for the year: “Finish on Empty”, and she invited Joe to come and share his experiences with this concept. He taught the group something he has graciously taught me over the course of our marriage.
When we refuse to fail, we fail to succeed.
My husband is incredible. The race I mentioned earlier is a little over 32 miles, with the following elevation profile:
He completed it in 10:54:08. You can find more of his race times here.
Yet, as he told the team, even amidst his many successes, there are races he couldn’t complete. Those “failures” continue to enhance his running career. He learned how to push himself to his limits, how to read his body, how to better prepare… all while improving his fitness. Each of those experiences played an important role in his oncoming successes.
Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood… who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” (April 23, 1910).
At the end of the day, I believe that means leaving our all out there on the field, or the track, or the trail. We may not attain perfection, but maybe the greater goal is just to be in the arena.
Just do it.
As for me, the fight this year has been to recover my pre-baby tenacity for running. I remember how it used to feel after a good long distance run, slow, but rewarding. Two kids later, my comfort zone has changed dramatically. Trying is trying, and everyone is somewhere different along the path, but I often end up walking, remaining stagnate in regard to my goals.
When I asked for his advice on staying motivated, Joe told me something surprisingly obvious. The stiff, sore runs, the ones we struggle to leave the house for, are the ones that matter the most. Going when you don’t want to go, pushing when you don’t want to push, the improvement happens there. As difficult as it is, if we want to do hard things, we just have to do them.
Celebrate your successes.
Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate the wins. Whether we want to run farther, or faster, or become a concert pianist, we must take baby steps to get there. Pause, and enjoy each one of those successes. Remember where you came from. Give yourself grace. We are wired to constantly reach for more, but we also need to be able to say— it is enough. I am enough.
I believe you are. So what are your goals, and what is holding you back?
Here’s to shooting for the moon, and landing among the stars.