Why do so many people start out doing so well and then, seemingly for no reason, give up?

Maybe I should ask the question this way: have you ever had a time in  your life where you started doing something that you felt was important but then, seemingly for no reason, gave up? I already know the answer, but I thought that I would go ahead and ask.

All of us know what it is like to begin a project or long-term process that we have decided is important. Perhaps we have even decided that this is the thing we were created to do and so we give it everything that we have. We plan and prepare and start to do the hard work of moving forward but then realize just how difficult meaningful work can be. Our early visions of success  have turned into an understanding that the path in front of us is longer than we could have imagined. Typically when this happens we take an inventory of how we feel, consider how long we may have left, and then do a quick calculation to determine if we think we can get all the way to the end. We may say something like this: “If I feel this way right now, how can I possibly go the rest of the way?” Often, when this calculation is complete, so are we. We decide the price is too high or we are too weak and then stop doing the thing we once thought was our calling. There’s no shame here since we’ve all experienced this, but maybe it’s time to ask what we can do about it!

Over the past few years I have gotten into the world of ultra running. I’m not a professional and I run really slow but I have been focused on training to race distances over 30 miles (Race is used very loosely. I am not trying to beat anyone. I just want to finish.). Even though I have run all my life, this foray into ultra distance running is relatively new. While I’m not sure this has been the best for my overall health, it has definitely taught me some valuable lessons about pressing forward when the road is long. One of the big lessons for me has been this:

Run the Mile you are in!

It can be so easy when covering a distance that will take several hours to start doing the math of how do I feel vs how far do I have left to go. And if you think about it for too long the only logical conclusion that you can come to is to quit! Do you know how to avoid this during an ultra marathon? Stop doing the math and start focusing on the  mile you are currently running. The funny thing about long races is that they are made up entirely of 1 mile segments. So, if you put together enough single miles, you will cover any distance! Convincing yourself to finish the mile you are in, though, is so much easier than trying to triangulate how you will be feeling in five, ten, or twenty miles from now. Run the mile you are in.

This principle is exactly the same when running the race of life. Any race worth running is going to require some time. It may be a relationship, or a job or a life calling; nothing worthwhile will happen overnight. And when you are running in this race, you will get tired. You may get beat up a little. There will be times that you want to quit. But instead of trying to figure out if you can make it all the way to the end, you need to focus on where you are. Focus on this mile. Run the mile you are in!

I realize that this is not a deep thought but it is one that has been very helpful to me while running physically but also, more importantly, when running the race of life. Things will get hard but I decided to run this race. So, I will focus on this mile followed by the next until I arrive at my destination. And you should too.

Run the mile you are in!


Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash