30 Days: Small steps

This morning I participated in my third race (second one this month). It was a 5K that I wanted to participate in to support my friend’s organization to benefit my university’s speech and hearing clinic. I have been keeping up with running (51.2 miles this month!) and I feel confident in my ability to stick with this. I don’t fear another plateau but I know I need to keep seeking ways to motivate myself.

The 5K I participated in today was on the same course that I ran for my first 5K last month. It was also raining today just like it was during my first one. I thought for sure I would beat my last time, but I was sorely disappointed when I realized I finished almost a minute and a half slower. I had this moment at the end of the race: I was alone and disappointed in my performance. I couldn’t believe that with all my hard work I hadn’t progressed at all. I felt like I was going to just pass out or cry or something. Instead I did everything I could to change my mindset to a positive one.

I thought about the first race compared to this one. The first race exciting because I hadn’t done it before. I had a group of friends in the race and on the sidelines to cheer me on. I was in a better mood because it was my birthday weekend. There was a lot more positive energy. But, there was still one thing that I can do now that I couldn’t do last month: run up the steepest hills in the race without stopping for a breath. It’s a small step, but an important one. I walked up two of the hills the last time I ran this course and I remember feeling sad that I couldn’t give it my all and sprint up like everyone else was. This time, it was me passing all of the people who stopped to walk up the hills.

Even though I didn’t get any faster, I definitely noticed an improvement in my consistency. I ran almost the same pace the whole race, I climbed those hills like a champion, and I recovered quickly after the race was over. Even if these are all small steps, they are enough motivation to remind me to keep going.

If I stop now I would be selling myself short. I wouldn’t be giving myself the opportunity to experience more small steps. If I stop now I may never get faster. I may never get stronger. I may never get better. If I keep going, I can take thousands of small steps toward a better life.

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