I was on the treadmill running, trying to reach 5km. It might not sound like a long distance to you but it was for me at that time. And I was dying. No exaggeration – it was a horrible feeling. I was red, sweaty and struggling to get air into my lungs – you’d think I’d run a marathon. It felt like it in my head.
I’d been running every day for a month, trying to build up my fitness and reach 5km at a reasonable pace. That day, I was going to do it. Nothing would or could stop me. Frustration and anger were fuelling this run and not even feeling like I was going to puke all over my trainers was going to prevent me from reaching my goal.
I needed a win desperately and I was 0.2km away from reaching that 5km goal. I could already taste how sweet the victory was going to be.
Then, the treadmill cut out.
It just stopped.
The thing died on me FFS.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, maybe the sweat was blinding me because that screen could not have gone black. But it had. The treadmill slowed to a halt. I couldn’t complete my run.
I would never reach 5km in that moment. I’d stopped short of the finish line. I stood there and felt like crying. I’d never been so frustrated in my life.
In these moments it’s either laugh or cry.
I burst out laughing (which probably looked just as crazy as crying).
Oh the ridiculousness of the situation I was in. Was the universe trying to teach me a lesson? I reflected on it for a moment whilst I caught my breath.
Did the 0.2km really matter? Was my achievement any less?
I had to admit that I was being silly. In reality, I had done what mattered – my body had run 5km (more or less). There was no extra benefit to those 0.2km except for my own gratification in reaching the goal I’d set.
I reflected on just how hard I had been pushing – too hard. On that run and in life, I was pushing too hard and trying to force everything to be as I wanted.
I’m good at that. Forcing things. But it only ever leads to frustration and even if you reach the goal it’s somehow worthless when you’ve hated every second of getting there.
Sometimes everything will align for you. And sometimes it will feel like wading through mud. Notice that. Listen to it and figure out why it feels like that because more often than not our feelings are trying to tell us something our brain is ignoring.
Pushing too hard is usually a result of desperation and panic. The fear of failing to reach your goal and the consequences that brings. So flip the script. Work on restoring your belief in yourself and your faith in your work. Focus on the one small step in front of you and know that you’re working towards your goal and you’ll get there when you’re meant to.
I ran 5km a couple of days later after a much needed rest. Then I ran 10km. Then I quit running altogether when I realised weights suit me better. There’s a lesson in that too… the way you reach your goal won’t always be the way you expect to. Keep your eyes and your mind open to all the paths in front of you.
You’ll get there.