True Story: Doing Stuff You Don’t Want to Do

photo by DVIDSHUB

photo by DVIDSHUB

Back in July I set some “fitness” goals (using this term loosely).

One of those goals is that I’m going to run a 5k every month for the next 12 months. Just one 5k each month. Totally doable. Just one.

Running in August, September and October was downright pleasant here this year.

Then came the race I ran the day after Thanksgiving. Sunny, but COLD. Plus it was my first cross country run since high school. NOT FUN.

So when the Reindeer Run rolled around the next weekend guess what happened?

I procrastinated. I didn’t sign up for the race ahead of time like I did for the other races (knowing darn well that if I paid the registration fee, I’d show up). And now I had an out, an excuse, a reason to look outside, see the coating of snow on the ground, pull the covers over my head and go back to bed.

How easy it is to lose our resolve.

Just a dusting of snow was enough to tempt me into blowing off my goal. Otherwise it was a clear, sunny day and it wasn’t even that cold out.

Then I started thinking about December.

Sure, there were plenty of Frosty 5ks and Jingle Bell Runs and other seasonal themed races going on but as I got deeper into the month, would I really show up for those either?

And then I started thinking about my very public proclamation about running one – just one – 5k each month. I really didn’t like the idea of publicly breaking my promises (even though technically it was “only” a promise to myself).  If I didn’t run in December, would I run in January or February or even March? Or would I now have a reason to be completely off the wagon?

I started to see the consequences of this one decision unraveling before me. I’d be letting myself down, and maybe I’d be letting other people down that I didn’t even realize.

Sometimes we gotta do the shit we don’t want to do to get where we want to go [Tweet This!]. Running is something I actually like to do . . . in ideal conditions.

But let’s be real here, conditions are rarely ideal right?

So what happens when you push a little, when you suck it up and do that thing you just don’t want to do but you know it’s going to get you over the hump?

Well, let me tell you my story of the Reindeer Run I almost didn’t do.

By the time the race started, most of the snow melted and a cozy fleece, hat and gloves were plenty to keep the chill at bay. The race route snaked through charming seaside neighborhoods and along parts of the harbor. Absolutely gorgeous!

The scenery and the festive energy of the runners – many donning antlers, jingle bells and even a fully decked out Santa or two – lifted my spirit. And then, as we began the climb up our first rolling hill a man with a tuba and a woman with a tambourine played Christmas carols for the hundreds of harriers trotting by.

This is what I would’ve missed if I had been a lazy bones.

A group of young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the name Fit Girls flanked me for most of the run. These kids really hit me square in the heart. They were between nine and eleven years old and at first I felt bad about myself because I could barely keep up with them. Then I started watching and listening to these girls. One would get tired and stop. The others would encourage her to keep going. And this went on for the whole race.

At one point, I accidentally dropped my keys and one of the Fit Girls stopped in her tracks, picked them up and handed them to me.

Something about those girls – their sisterhood, their awareness, their concern for each other’s wellbeing and that of a stranger’s – filled me with love and hope that a new generation of kick ass girls will blossom into strong, compassionate women.

There were times I wanted to stop running. This happens to me almost every race I run. Pacing is so important and tricky. It’s a challenge to not get caught up in the excitement and energy of a fresh pack of runners bolting off the starting line.

But when you start a distance race in sprint mode, you’re going to burn out quick. You get tired. Your body aches. Your mind is overcome with thoughts of quitting.

But there are more speeds than all out sprint and dead stop. A jog, a slow jog, walking if you need to. Just keep moving forward. Just cross that finish line. And if you can, kick it into gear for that last tenth of a mile so you can finish strong.

As I headed into the final stretch of the Reindeer Run, I drew my strength from those Fit Girls. I was tired and exhilarated all at once. Hundreds of people were cheering on the runners, ringing sleigh bells and calling out names. Ah, this is why I love 5ks.

Sometimes the route is windy, rocky, hilly or even mountainous. Sometimes it’s cold, rainy, buggy, and out and out miserable. Sometimes your knees are screaming. Or your toes are cramped. Or your lungs are on fire. And yet, all of that melts away the second you see and cross that finish line. You feel renewed. You feel alive. You feel . . . proud.

It’s the same way with business.

Some days we have to force ourselves to get out of bed.

Some days we have to remind ourselves of the commitment we’ve made to others.

Some days we have to draw our strength from the people we admire.

Some days we have to take slow, deliberate steps before we can coast downhill.

Then, the day finally comes when we’ve hit our stride, the crowd cheers us on and all that shit we didn’t want to do is long forgotten . . . and then we gear up to do it all over again.

What’s something you do to get past your blocks and keep moving forward in your life? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. Love this analogy. What a great reminder of the gifts we get when we just push thru to complete something – in our biz, in our life. It sounds like a really fun run, thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thanks Wendy. Whatever it is (running, giving a talk, learning a new technology), it’s been my experience that pushing through fear or inertia always ends up be worth it in the end.

  2. Your writing inspires me. I enjoy running and felt like I was right there with you. I also enjoyed how you related jogging to business. It is often that decision that seemed so small to put something off until another day that causes one to miss out if we didn’t give in to the naysayer in our brain.

    • Hi PTally,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such kind words. It’s great to have a fellow running enthusiast here. As I get older, I’m really starting to appreciate how small decisions and acts in business and in life can have such powerful (and unexpected) results. It gives me chills. Best to you in all your pursuits!

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