Long runs. The perfect time to reflect, learn, and grow, while getting in a great workout.
I like to compare my running journey to a long run on the 10-mile clay trail at Clermont in Central Florida. Just like a long run, my journey has its ups, downs, unexpected turns, dark moments, the moment when the sun shines, and a finish line -- one I cannot see. Right now I would say I am at "mile 7" in my high school running journey.
And at mile 7 in a 10 mile run you begin to become anxious, ancy, and sometimes envious towards those who have already made it to the finish. You have three miles left and it seems so soon, yet so far. At seven miles, you have a choice: you can either dream about the finish or dwell on the present.
For me at "mile 7," I don't have a college that is specifically looking at me. In fact, I haven't yet met my goal of earning a scholarship. I'm envious of those who have already committed to schools, and while I am very happy for them, I just wish I was with them.
Yet, I'm learning that I have a choice: I can either dwell on not having what I want, or I could keep my focus on the dream -- and the effort it takes -- to get there.
The Power of Dreams
I used to be a big dreamer. When I was a little 7th grader, who the year before had not broken 13 minutes in the 3200 meters, I said that I would place at state and break 11:30. I was a dreamer. And although I didn't quite hit my goal, I ran 11:42 and placed 7th at state.
When I was an eighth grader and had not yet broken 20 minutes in the 5k, I said that I would run 18:20. Again, I got close with 18:47.
When I was a freshman entering a new school at Lake Nona and a new class division, I said that I would be a state champion for the next four years. I went into the state meet that year projected in the top 3 but finished 8th.
And then I struggled. Now, after several setbacks the last two years, I am a senior and am striving to recapture my dreamer spirit.
While I didn't hit most of the goals that I had set for myself back in the day, I did achieve more than I ever thought possible. I dreamed big and I achieved big things.
In the process of this dreaming, and thinking I could achieve things "at will," I then hit those "rough years." And I think that it's the fear of "putting in all the work but still falling short" that zapped my dreaming spirit.
So now at "mile 7," I have a choice: dwell or dream. Or in running terms: back off the pace or surge toward the finish.
Somehow I've forgotten how to dream -- to set big goals for myself. To be honest, I've been scared -- scared to dream and risk that those dreams might crumble. But when we dwell on the fear, we virtually guarantee our dreams will crumble by default.
So, why dwell? Why not dream? What do we have to lose to dream big -- and go all out for it? At least then we have a shot. And if we don't hit the mark, at least we have the peace of knowing we gave it our all.
Whatever "mile" mark you are in life or in your running career, you will always have the choice -- dwell or dream.
Which one will you choose to do?
For me, from this day forward, I choose to recapture that 7th grader "dreamer" that said she could run an 11:20, that 8th grader who was adamant that she would run 18:20 5k at state, and that freshman who was convinced she would be a state champion some day. I need to be that girl again.
I need to dream again. And I will. Starting NOW.
It's not easy, no one ever said it was -- to focus on our own goals, our own dreams, when the world around us seems to have already achieved them. It seems impossible. But I promise after this last "hill," we will see the finish, we will achieve our goals and our dreams if we press on.
I encourage you to dream. Dream BIG. Never stop.
"The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult." - OG Mandino
Turn the corner, attack the hill, dream with all your heart, and remember that you are capable of anything you set your mind to.