This is not a post about running. Not exactly.
But it starts there, so bear with me.
The hardest point in my runs (read: slow slog) these days is between mile 2.5 and 3. After the newness of the run has worn off and before I’m in any kind of comfortable (read: muscle numbing) rhythm. Way before the end is in sight. And let’s not even talk about the possibility of the “runner’s high”. That’s a cruel myth perpetuated by sadistic marathoners to make the rest of us feel like failures.
This is the point that is the most uncomfortable. When I most want to stop. When the voices taunting “This is STUPID!” are the loudest.
Instead of “I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can” on repeat in my brain it’s “I’m-gonna-die-I’m-gonna-die”.
On June 10th I sweated and stumbled and ached my way through 6.7 miles. I made it only half of the distance I need to be able to run on October 26th. And everything in me said, “Ok, I’m ready to be done with this challenge. I really want to stop this madness now.”
Maybe running isn’t your thing, but you’re partway to somewhere.
Partway through a degree.
Partway through a season of waiting. For a new job. Or a promotion. Or a time of healing. Or a new home.
Partway through a big project. The launch of a new program.
How does it feel?
How did Jesus feel when he was partway to the cross and knew all that was ahead before He’d complete His mission?
Whatever goal it is you’re working towards, the time people most want to give up is the middle. The inspiration of the initial goal has faded and the finish line is not in sight yet. Just ugly pavement stretching endlessly in front of you.
Maybe this is why the early teen years are the hardest for parents. You’re in the middle. Your kids are no longer cute and full of unlimited promise and possibility. They’re awkward and have acne and they forget their homework. Reality has set in and the finish line of responsible, independent adulthood seems too far in the distance to see yet.
Here are some of the things I’m learning about persevering through partway.
- Examine your strategy. Make sure you not only have a picture of where you’re going, but also figure out the strategy to get there. What are the small steps to get you to the big destination? When I’m running I focus on a spot just a little ways ahead and make it my goal not to pass out before then. Michael Hyatt recently did a great post on goal setting you might want to check out.
- Go back to the vision. I’m doing this half-marathon not because it’s my idea of a good time, but because I’ve seen first-hand the need for accessible clean water in Africa and I want to do something about it. Here are the faces I keep before me as I train.
Is there a picture or object that reminds you of the value of your goal?
- Have a perseverance “playlist.” I run faster and longer with great upbeat music, but that’s not the only kind of playlist that helps. I also run faster and longer when I run with someone. What are the relationships, experiences, resources, or practices that inspire you, and strengthen you?
- Celebrate every mile marker on the way. I’m really uncomfortable sharing the good stuff, but the other day when I finished 7.07 miles without throwing up I texted my family and they cheered with me. When was the last time you celebrated the progress you have made thus far?
What is helpful to you as you persevere through partway to somewhere?