The morning I finally stood in the starting line-up surrounded by Baltimore’s most avid and amateur women runners for the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k run/walk, fears of running too slow and finishing last still clouded my confidence.
I was in my early 50’s, a runner newbie, and despite encouragement from my gym mates, didn’t quite feel race-ready.
“You’ll be fine!” they said.
“Just sign up and do it!” they said.
“Pace yourself and don’t worry about finishing last,” they said.
That last piece of advice is a mantra worthy of applying to every goal we’re seeking to reach; every relationship we’re trying to fix; every fear we’re working to overcome; and every opportunity that has yet to come our way.
During my gym practice sessions, I was running about a 12 – 14 minute mile; not fast at all, but comfortable for me and I was happy with that – until race day.
Ten minutes into the race, as women blew past me, old and young, all different shapes and sizes, I started feeling hopeless, and panic set in.
It was a 5k – 3.1 miles that I’d finished on the treadmill in about 45 minutes. But these women were flying by and visions of me crossing the finish line with no cheering crowd as the clean-up crew did their thing sat heavy on my shoulders.
Has that ever happened to you in life?
You feel perfectly fine that what you’re doing in life is working, you’ve got a plan, you’re on track with your goals.
Then a Facebook/Instagram post of a friend or former classmate’s goals and accomplishments seem grander, better thought-out. They just purchased a new vehicle before you did; went on that trip you’re still saving for; applied for and got their dream job while you’re still feeling stuck.
When you see that people are getting what they want, you feel you’re still struggling, AND you’re not confident in your life choices, eventually what happens is …
… you’ll start doubting that you’re moving fast enough, which will allow fear of failure to reach in, slow your current pace even more, and undermine just how far you’ve come in your journey.
It’s a never-ending cycle that will haunt every fork in your journey if you allow someone else’s life to be the yardstick against how you measure your own.
But you can change that.
IN SELF DOUBT, LOOK BACK AT HOW FAR YOU’VE COME
As runners kept passing me by, I felt soooooo slow. Sometimes I’d try to keep pace, but it would back-fire and I’d have to take a walk break, which slowed my run time even more.
I felt overheated and overwhelmed.
What was I thinking? I’d only been running a few months. I wasn’t ready to run in a race against more accomplished runners. I need more running practice time; I’m gonna be one of the last ones to finish and I’m gonna be embarrassed.
With all that foolishness running through my head, the MOST important reason to pace myself was lost.
Words are powerful motivators. They can either motivate you to strengthen your resolve, pull up your big-girl undies and move forward; or they can slow you toward inertia where you don’t want to do anything at all.
During one of my many walk breaks I’d started taking, we’d reached a point in the running route where it horse-shoed, and I could see the crowd of women running behind me.
There were so many!
I used that moment as proof that I was keeping a better pace than I thought.
But more importantly, I gained insight about the importance of maintaining a personal pace that works in my life, instead of trying to keep up with what and how someone else is pacing their life.
YOUR PACE; YOUR JOURNEY
Pacing myself had nothing to do with the other runners. It was about ME. That was the most important reason to pace myself I had to learn – in running and in life.
Running has been THE most relevant example for living my life at my OWN pace that I’ve encountered in my 58 years of living. And since I didn’t start running in earnest until I was 50, that gives you some idea of how long I’ve been frustrated with myself.
How about you?
Do you wish you had this; or wish you could travel there? Do you secretly hate on the coworker/friend who got the promotion you wanted? Do you wish you could retire like your classmates are doing?
Well ….. STOP IT
Enjoy YOUR journey!
A house filled with material things; a car; college; boo-coo $$$$ in the bank; retiring and travelling the world; blah, blah, blah – those are society’s expectations. And if those are what you TRULY want, then go for them!
But if you’re just following a “keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s mentality, I repeat …..
Living your life at your own peaceful pace begins with you.
It’s the key to emotional health and wealth; and you can’t be peaceful if you are trying to live your life by doing the same things as someone else, at a pace that doesn’t agree with you.