I WAS getting better at running. I've been running pretty much every day for the past three weeks now and I worked up to running 4 miles without stopping – and without hating it that much. But the last couple of days, it's been hard to keep going. My legs hurt. My heart can't seem to keep up. And the hills here at Bear Lake just seem too plentiful.
When I see a little hill up ahead, I gear up mentally, plug along and then feel a great sense of accomplishment at the top. But when I see a long gradual hill (and there are a lot of those around here), it's harder. On those long hills, I often can't see the top. It's hard to keep going towards a goal I can't even see – especially when it's hot and it hurts. The only way I can keep myself going after a logn time on one of those seemlingly neverending hills is to just look down and focus on keeping my feet moving.
During today's run, while trying to keep my mind from reverting to “I hate this,” I got to thinking about how these hills are a lot like the trials and goals in my life. The short-term goals and trials aren't that bad. They can be steep and challenging but as long as I can see the end, I'm pretty good at powering on through to the end.
It's those long-term trials and goals – the ones where the end isn't in sight – that really get me. It's so hard to keep up my pace and keep moving forward with the annoying repetition involved in helping my kids learn things they don't really want to learn that are important (being polite, doing their jobs around the house consistently and well, that sort of thing). It's hard to keep moving forward with big, long Power of Moms projects that require so much revision and coordination and thought and take way longer than we could have guessed (like the book we're writing that has turned into a way bigger project than we anticipated). It's hard to keep working hard on relationships when I don't really see what I can can or should hope for in the end. My life is full of these long-term issues and trials and goals with no real end in sight – things I don't feel I should give up on but things where my ongoing efforts just don't seem to be getting me to the top anytime soon.
I'm realizing that when it comes to these long hills in life, I need to do what I've learned to do with the long hills in running. I need to focus on taking one step at a time and I need to stop looking up to see when it's going to end. There are periods of time in our lives and goals we're working towards that are just plain long and hard and sometimes painful. While seeing the end might help us pick up our pace and feel more hopeful, that's not always possible. So we have to learn to keep on keeping on when we don't know how long it might be before we'll get to a place of accomplishment or relative comfort.
So there's what running taught me today.
Now I've got to deal with the long long slow uphill climb involved in training for this ragnar relay! But for this goal, there IS an end in sight. August 20th. I just have to keep up all this running until August 20th. Then I'll need a new hill to climb to keep me going on physical fitness!