So it happened. I gave up.
I run 50 miles a month. I’ve hit the magic number a few times now, but I knew October would be difficult.
October was wonderful and busy and challenging, due in no small part to time in planes, rental cars and hotels. Traveling put a cramp in my otherwise clearly delineated exercise schedule. Treadmills? Yuck. Four a.m. wake up calls to get everything in? Definitely not. I decided to just run my miles whenever I could, and I’d adjust as needed. No ink on the calendar this month. Pencil only. Just in case.
Early on, I accomplished two amazing personal victories, yet I was already behind.
I made it halfway to my goal just after mid October. Yet as I counted the sunrises and tallied the miles, I lamented:
A few days later:
And at some point I came to believe there were too many miles and not enough days remaining. Tired from the wear and tear of the month, I embraced inflexibility and pessimism. I decided there was nothing more I could do.
I gave up.
And I sat with that for a moment, that spirit of gave up. I realized two things. One, it didn’t suit me just then. Gave up felt like a stranger invading. Unwelcome. What have I been doing all these years, if not training myself for perseverance? Two, it didn’t make sense! It was definitely possible I would not reach my goal, but why in the hell was I giving up the game when there was time left on the clock?
“Even if things don’t unfold the way you expected,
don’t be disheartened or give up.
One who continues to advance will win in the end.”
I had time and determination left. And the only way I’d know if I had enough of either was to keep striving. I erased a few items on my schedule, realizing I was going to have to release the less important ones to keep my primary goal in focus.
Down to 10 miles, I had choices. Stick with my typical four milers and somehow squeeze in a shorter run? Or go for the five-mile barrier I hadn’t challenged in 18 months?
My next time out, I finished four and checked in with myself as I cooled down. I can do one more mile, I thought as I stretched one of my quads. I have the time. I have the energy… Let’s do it!
And out I went, for another mile. I hit five that day. Then, in a moment of inspiration, ran five again the next.
Finished my goal with two days to spare. The goal I was ready to shelve. I finished it. Early. This taught me something…
Sometimes it seems unlikely we’ll meet a goal. And if we’re tired or run down, it’s easy to say it’s not worth the effort to continue. And sometimes, for many reasons, that might honestly be the best choice. But check your gut and your resources first. Because here’s the thing: If the clock hasn’t run out yet, it’s not time to give up.