One of my more valuable life lessons came while training for my first marathon about a decade ago. I didn't have a single clue as to what I was doing, yet on the heels of a significant relationship implosion, I knew one thing:
I needed to feel some sort of sense of accomplishment.
So why not a marathon, right?
I trained as part of Team in Training, one of the largest sports endurance programs in the world. We had this magnificent cheerleader of a coach named Randy. He knew that nearly everyone in our group was a complete newbie to the world of long distance running.
And so right out of the gates, Randy taught us a very important new-marathoner training secret:
No need to sprint. Focus only on forward momentum. He called it "the marathon shuffle."
The essence of the marathon shuffle is that, no matter how daunting it feels to add miles to your training runs, it's entirely doable if you just keep shuffling out mile after mile.
And that is precisely what I kept top of mind throughout the training program, and all the way through that first race.
Just keep moving.
No need to sprint. Just keep shuffling forward.
Finishing that race was one of the greatest moments of my life, and it gave me the momentum and confidence to finish several other long distance running events in the years that followed.
Randy's words never left me. Through the most challenging stretches of any given race, I'd tell myself over and over again, "Marathon shuffle. Marathon shuffle. You can do this. Just keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving."
And then life, business and kids got right in the middle of things.
It's been six years since I've run a race longer than 10K.
Until early 2013, I was beginning to accept this limited fitness deal as my lot in life, a trade off if you will for having a successful business, wonderful kids, a great husband.
But I had kept having this creeping feeling that my body and my soulneeded deserved another challenge.
And so in late February, I threw caution to the wind and began training for a half marathon that takes place here in Portland in just a few weeks.
It has not been pretty.
My "computer potato" body is not in shape for this nonsense. My training hours are significantly limited by work and parenting obligations. I whine and moan more than I care to admit.
I cannot sprint, but I do not cave.
I do not cave because I've set a goal for myself, "finish another friggin' half marathon."
And so, I shuffle.
I keep moving forward, step by step and block by block, with Randy's words ringing in my ears through every 6, 8, 9 mile run.
I'm not at the top of my fitness game, that is for sure.
But I refuse to let that stop me. Instead, I'll inch forward, once shuffly step at a time.
How about you? What are you striving for?
A new job? A better job? Something that seems nearly impossible when you look at the scary, gigantic big picture all at once?
No matter what you're hoping for, wishing for or aspiring to achieve, digest this:
It's completely OK if you can't sprint, just refuse to cave.
Consider the marathon shuffle instead.