Back in January, I wrote this post on my new adventure pursuing my goal of becoming a runner. My goal went beyond simply becoming a runner, I wanted to complete a half marathon…AND I did. In fact, I completed two half marathons, a 10K, a 7 miler, and all of the training runs along the way over the last 8 months. I CRUSHED IT!
Apparently, I like running. Who knew? I can push myself harder and longer than I ever thought I could go. I can plan ahead and take the necessary steps to accomplish a long term goal that is way outside of my comfort zone. I can do hard things. I can invest in myself through time and energy without feeling guilty. I can work through difficult things and come out stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually.
I didn’t do this alone. This mama had dynamic and consistent cheerleaders. My kids high-fived me as I wearily walked in from long training runs. My daughter complimented me on my “running fashion.” My family always asked, “How far did you go this time?” Their heartfelt enthusiasm was the same whether it was 3 or 12 miles. My husband was amazing. The night before the Her Madison Half Marathon (the race signup that started it all) I wrote my husband a letter. Here is a little excerpt…
“Thank you so much for your encouragement and taking this huge goal just as seriously as I did. Your smile and excitement greeting me fresh off a run was a sweet blessing… It sounds so cliche to say ‘running taught me so much,’ but it really did. The lyrics of the songs, prayers lifted up, tears and brokenhearted groans- these things were with me as I ran and changed and grew and healed. Thank you for understanding the benefit of it all. Thank you for never making me feel selfish or stupid for being so strict and crazy with my workout schedule. Running really does burn off the crazy, unless I get too hot :)… I dedicate this race to you, Daniel Johnson. I couldn’t have done it without you, really and truly.”
So what happens now? This mama has achieved a goal that was really important to me. What do I do with all the momentum? What do I do with all the grit? What do I do with all of the lessons learned in this process? I’ve been thinking on these things. Here is my top three from my list..
- I cheer on others in their dreams and goals.
When my husband expressed his desire to pursue a Master’s degree, I was thrilled for him. I know it will mean adjustments in our family life. He starts his program this month. I am so proud of him for going for it! It’s something he has wanted to do for awhile. I know how alive it makes you feel to take steps forward. Having the space to achieve and dream gives me the freedom to cheer and celebrate others doing the same. I love Jen Hatmaker‘s quote in For the Love, “A rising tide lifts every boat in the harbor.”
2. I’m aware of the weak “I want to quit!” moments and don’t let them steal the strength to do what I need to do.
During the first mile of every run, it sucks. You are messing with your gear. You are trying to talk yourself out of the distance you need to go. Your breathing is getting settled, transitioning from Am I dying? to a relaxed rhythm that meets the demands of your body. You may feel the ache of a tight muscle and wonder if you really can do it again. Your mind and heart swirl with complaints as your body just keeps getting it done. Then, you realize that you just did it. One mile down. Your confidence increases and you keep going. You finish what you started.
In life, I want to quit a lot of things a lot of times. If my quitter mind had its way, I would be nothing. I would have quit every single thing that I ever started to do! Rarely is quitting ever the right and wise answer to any problem. Adjust? Yes. Seek support? Yes. Dig deeper? Yes. Quit? No!
It is difficult to do new things. Starting out can be brutal. No one likes to feel weak or uncomfortable. But, I have learned to recognize those Mile One moments in life and lean in. Put one foot in front of the other. Mile One doesn’t last forever. You will find your pace. You will adjust. You will get through it. Then, you will look back and see what you did and be so thankful that you didn’t quit.
3. Others don’t determine my next dream. Each person has their own trajectory.
One of the annoying things about completing a half-marathon is that afterwards many people ask when you are going to run a “real marathon.” (Seriously, it is totally OK to punch those people). My answer is “I don’t know, probably when I’m older.” It’s the equivalent of “someday when I grow up.” To another person, my most logical next goal would be a marathon. Me? Maybe, but not right now. I have other goals. I have other dreams. I’m not going to quit distance running, but it is OK for it to take a less important role.
Don’t let others dictate your dreams. The spark inside you that gets your heart pumping and your breath quickened is important to tune into. Don’t spend so much of your time chasing other’s expectations of you that you lose awareness of what lights you up inside. When you ignore and miss what and who you are created to be, no one wins. Dream on, sweet mamas. The world needs you.
So what happens when Mama achieves her goal? Mama learns. Mama grows. Mama loves deeper. Mama cheers loudly for anyone around her who is dreaming and doing. Please don’t talk yourself out of setting goals and going after it. We all need your spark. We all need your wisdom. Go, Mama, go!