It felt like an eternity. I could see the flashing lights out of the corner of my eye but I knew if I looked, they would reveal something gruesome. I didn’t want to look down. But I had to.
Really, treadmill? It’s bad enough that because I haven’t run in over a month, not to mention the cold I’m currently recovering from, that it feels like the past 6 minutes I’ve been running have lasted longer than anything EVER. But now you’re going to throw it my face that the marathon I just ran is only a mere fraction of what I set out to accomplish? Heck, that’s not even the worst about what’s going on here. Sure it’s rough that my stride feels like I’m running with the new Nike cinder-block shoes on. But then there’s the buttons sitting right within reach of my hands, giving me the option to “SPEED DOWN” or worse….”STOP WORKOUT.”
I’ve never been a big-time runner, someone who just sets aside time in their day to go run somewhere and come right back to the same place. But my father is brilliant runner. My sister-in-law? The word gazelle has been tossed around on numerous occasions. And that’s a compliment to gazelles! Needless to say, despite my affinity for other sports, I have come to understand the beauty of what running represents in my life as more than just a metaphor for chasing my dreams.
It’s a challenge. It’s a fight. It’s a test…against no one else besides yourself.
That responsibility can be a daunting burden. When things get tough, you have to look within yourself for the motivation. And that’s exactly what I did during my seemingly harmless pursuit of a 30 minute run this past weekend. I have no problem admitting that no less than 5 minutes into my run, my thoughts were exactly this: “Why the hell am I doing this?” I could have been home watching the Yankees play in Spring Training. I could have been laying by the pool, letting my legs do nothing but absorb the sun! Instead, I thought about one thing: this website. And by embracing the message we seek to spread everyday on this site, these realizations began to sink in as I pushed forward on that treadmill:
1.) Life is always going to tempt you with STOP buttons. It may come in the form of an easy way out. It may physical or mental. It may come when times are tough. It may even come when times are great. The trick is not to ignore these stop signs but instead acknowledge them as benchmarks that you are surpassing. Every time you decide NOT to give up, you’ve accomplished something. And again, these stop buttons don’t only come when you’re ready to throw in the towel. Often the sneakiest yet most alluring stop signs present themselves to us when we’re chugging along nicely in the pursuit of a goal. There we are, happy as can be, when something tells us “hey, you’ve done a great job…this is far enough!” Smile. Laugh. Listen to that voice and simply reply, there is no such thing as far enough. You are either pursuing your dreams or you’re not. You are active or inactive. And as long as you’re still dreaming, you’ll be passing by those stop signs with ease.
2.) Keep track of how far you’ve come. Growing up, I always had huge dreams. But I found that I would get frustrated if time would pass without accomplishing any of those far-reaching goals. That’s when my brother sat me down and told me about the word encouragement. Everyone needs some. It serves as positive motivation when we need the most. Dan told me to keep dreaming big…but to give myself credit for the steps I have already taken. Just because I was giving myself a pat on the back for coming this far doesn’t mean that I was allowing myself to ease up my effort level. So when I looked down at the treadmill screen to see “20% complete”, it reinforced the fact that this goal was achievable for me. It told me that I could do this, right here and right now. Track your progress. Use your success to propel you further.
Now, I understand that running on a treadmill isn’t necessarily the same as finding myself out at Joshua Tree. But bear with me when I tell you that running on that treadmill in the gym at my apartment complex represented the journey we’re all on in the pursuit of our dreams. I set a goal for myself and I knew it was going to be tough. When things began to challenge me, I was presented with options: fight or flight. Even when I was tired, when I thought about quitting, that tread never stops just like our lives seem to never wait up for us. But I was encouraged by the steps I had already taken, allowing me to believe that my effort was paying off.
I said it before and I will say it again: you cannot lose if you never stop trying.
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