I’m deep in the heart of the most difficult portion of the Baltimore Marathon. My pre-race plan has worked to perfection, with two hours and thirty minutes of patient, steady running behind me. Just ahead though, I’m about to face multiple lengthy inclines, the kind that cut into your pace and can punish a runner late in the race. My legs feel good but I’m not looking forward to these climbs.
Every runner has to endure moments like this. It comes with the territory. There is no way I’m stopping with my goal of a sub-four hour marathon clearly in reach. I’ve been intensively training for the last four months and I’m not letting all that effort go to waste.
As a former psychology major, I’ve always been intrigued by our mind. What is it about the circumstances of the moment that trigger unusual, creative or bizarre thoughts? We think of things at the strangest of times. And as I began a slow and arduous climb in mile 19, I experienced this phenomenon, thinking of something I hadn’t dwelt on in a long time.
“Why am I doing this?”
Ever ask this question when you are working towards a goal? Especially when the difficulty of the journey discourages you? Or perhaps when you are wondering, with all the work still ahead, whether the goal is actually worth it?
Does rethinking the “Why” question make you doubt what you are doing? Does it bring more fear than calm?
It did for me, for about half a mile. And the thought occurred to me for a brief moment in that span of the race, “I’m never doing this again! This is insane! What am I really gaining from punishing myself this way?”
Then, as if a voice inside snapped me back from my downward spiral of negativity, I remembered, “This isn’t punishment at all. It’s a blessing.”
It’s a blessing the pounds on my body that have been shed since I started running.
It’s a blessing my blood pressure has fallen and my stress levels have decreased.
It’s a blessing I have more energy for my daily activities.
It’s a blessing how this hobby has shaken me out of the life malaise I was in three years ago.
It’s a blessing the discipline I’ve developed through training and how that discipline has spilled over into other areas of my life.
It’s a blessing how the achievement of my running goals has given me the confidence to pursue other ventures like blogging.
It’s a blessing my running and focus on staying fit is inspiring others in my family to do the same. (Mrs. Luke1428 and my oldest son run their first 5k this coming Saturday.)
What’s your move in that moment when you question your goals? Do you give up and say, “Forget it…It’s just not worth it!” Are you only focused on the negatives of the moment and the pain you are experiencing?
Or do all the reasons you began the journey in the first place come flooding back into your mind? Can focusing on the benefits and the progress being made fire you up again? Are you able to picture yourself victorious, having accomplished the goal?
I chose to think about the blessings. And after the final difficult climb was conquered near the end of mile 22, my mind had already transitioned to what my next post-marathon running goal would be. For now, that will have to be listed as TBA…
I’ll provide more race details later in the week on how I reached my goal and ran this marathon in 3 hours, 54 minutes. I had to get this out of my head as I’m still processing the events of this past weekend. Hopefully it has been an encouragement to those of you who are facing a moment of struggle. There are positive reasons you set out on the journey in the first place. Remember back to those and focus on the progress that has been made, not the pain and difficulty of the current circumstances.
The thoughts you dwell on in that moment of doubt can alter the course of the journey.
How do you handle that moment when the mind questions your goal?
Next Post: 5 Purchases I Refuse to Skimp On
Prior Post: I Need Patience Now!
Here are a few Luke1428 posts that were mentioned in a recent blog carnival:
“Our Nightmare on Rental Street: Evicting a Tenant” – Yakezie Carnival at Rather Be Shopping
“Four Reasons Your Budget Isn’t Working” at Mom and Dad Money
Thank you to the carnival hosts for including my articles.