|That "care-free" smile is deceiving . . .|
My daughter likes to go running with me. We hadn't gone in quite some time—our schedules getting jammed-pack in the spring with soccer, work, and school events. When soccer ended a few weeks ago it marked the advent of the running season. I have my running partner again.
This time Sage has set a goal for herself. My amazingly strong-willed daughter has decided that she wants to run a 10k. This goal was cemented and reinforced with steely determination when I told her matter-of-fact that she could not possibly go 6 miles—our longest run has only been 1.5 miles.
In an effort to empower my daughter (after having cut her down significantly), I downloaded the Couch to 10k Program. For those unfamiliar with the C10k program, it is a training program designed for people who are inactive, with no running experience. In 13 weeks it takes someone from zero fitness to being able to finish a 10k run. I had heard somewhere this was a good running program for children.
I explained to Sage that we should approach the schedule like we would a ladder. The bottom rung is where we are now, running anywhere from 3/4 of a mile to 1.5 miles while the top rung, the last week of training, is the 10k race. We can't get to the level of the 10k race without doing every workout, climbing each rung in between. If we follow each step, before we know it, we'll be able to run all 6 miles!
This is a difficult concept for people to digest. Most people look at the end goal, in this case 6 miles, and assume they can't do it. They think about how hard it is to run for five minutes and how much worse it must be to go all 6 miles. It becomes overwhelming, paralyzing even. People give up before they start. I know this because I do it myself. Which is why I planned to keep the training plan a secret and only reveal each days workout as we progressed with the simple promise that by the end of the summer we could do our 10k race.
For three mornings a week I've tapped Sage on the shoulder at 6 AM and whispered in her ear "Ready to run?" It takes her five minutes to be dressed and ready to go, fueled by her enthusiasm and motivation. In spite of the early hour she always wears a smile and is bouncing with energy.
That is until the day she stole the training schedule from me. Her eyes skipped down to the last two weeks of training which included a 40-minute run.
That morning we didn't get halfway down the block before she quit, crying "I can't run for 40 minutes!" We only needed to accomplish several intervals of 4-minute runs that morning, what would normally be an easy task for Sage. That 40-minute workout loomed in her mind like the dark face of Mount Everest. She was at the base of the mountain looking at the peak, at the bottom of the ladder and trying to reach the top. Instead of focusing on reaching the next step, the very-achievable step that would bring her closer to her goal, she focused on what she could not yet do. And gave up.
As you know from my writing I am believer in setting big dreams for ourselves. But it is my firm belief that most of us, after getting our ladder set up and mapping our plans, should forget about that big dream . . . for the time being.
Achieving the next step towards the goal will be challenging, it will be uncomfortable, it will push us beyond our limits, it will take a lot of our energy and focus. Do that first. Do the first step first and then take the next step, then the step after that. Let the end result be at the end. And I promise you, if you are committed to your own "C10k program" you will accomplish your goal.
My uncle likes to remind me of this quote (and I'm glad he does):
By the inch it's a cinch, by the mile it's a trial.