The Courage To Keep Going
Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” Regardless of your opinion of Lance and the choices he made in performance enhancements, it is clear that he knew about the pain of pushing through. He knew that to keep going is often so much harder than quitting. And, he knew that if he quit, he would always have to live with that decision.
It’s so easy to apply that perspective of resilience to a physical goal. Most of us can easily see that during a race or a competition we certainly won’t win if we quit and if we keep going, there will be victory (over self or others) at the finish. I thought about this yesterday while I was running and how it applied to me.
I ran my first marathon in 2011. It wasn’t fast or glamorous. In fact, it was more than five hours of lung-bursting, leg burning, downright painful running (and sometimes walking). You can read a little about it on my last blog. When I was done, I said, “Never again” and I meant it, at the time. But, I later realized that I wanted to get better. I wasn’t willing to say “one and done” because I know the value of continually improving myself. I know the value of setting a goal and working toward it.
I ran my second marathon in 2013 and came in nearly 45 minutes faster at about 4 hours and 29 minutes. Last year, 2014, I set the goal of improving once again and coming in under 4 hours.
I didn’t make it.
I did well – I came in at 4 hours and 9 minutes, so it was 20 minutes faster than the previous year. I can give you a list of excuses – I broke my foot over the summer so I didn’t really train, I dropped my fuel packets around mile 4 and couldn’t fuel up as planned, it was too cold, then it was too hot, and on and on. All those things are true but it’s also true that I set a goal and didn’t reach it. The decision I faced at the finish line last year was whether to quit or to try again for my goal.
“Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” ~Bear Bryant
Well…..here I go again. Less than three weeks from now until my race and I’ve been training a little more this year. I ran 6 miles on Sunday and 15 yesterday. Yesterday hurt. I mean, it didn’t just hurt toward the end, I started out my run sore from Sunday and I never did find the “runner’s high” or “second wind.” As I ran yesterday, I thought about WHY I was doing it. Why did I insist on running well beyond the point of having fun and reaping the health benefits? The best thing about running 15 miles was the extra dessert I enjoyed afterward!
It doesn’t matter what the goal is that we set. What is important is that we have the courage to not give in. To not quit, when quitting would be easier. To have the courage to keep going. I can think back over the years a
bout the goals that I have set and reached. Most of them weren’t easy to reach (good stretch goals never are!) and I faced the temptation to quit more than once. I tried to leave home the first time when I was 18 but my father brought me back. The second time, same result. It doesn’t get easier when we have to try and try again, it gets harder because we often let the fear of past failures influence us into quitting.
When we try and fail, the lessons we learn will help us succeed in the future, but only if we learn them and apply them. It’sonly failure if we quit. I wanted to quit yesterday. I wanted to stop running and decide that just running a marathon was great, it didn’t have to be under four hours. That’s certainly true – I’m grateful for the health and ability to run 26+ miles at ANY speed – but I also know that I want to be better tomorrow than I am today. Not just physically, but in all areas of my life. It’s easier to see it and show it in the physical dimension but the lesson is more important in the other areas of life – emotional, spiritual or mental. What goals do you have for your life? What will you do when the going gets tough and you want to give up? What will you do to have the courage to keep going?
Look for my next blog (or join my mailing list to receive it in your inbox) where I will talk more about setting the right goals and creating action plans to help you get there. Click here for more information on my success coaching program or contact me directly for help to set and reach your personal or professional goals.