Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Running Past Your Limitations

Have you ever been to the "Dark Side"?

Unfortunately for some, this is not a reference to the Star Wars movie series from the 80's and 90's. The "Dark Side" I'm referring to is that place where most people have never been. They've been close to it, maybe even started to go there, but quickly retreated to their self-prescribed haven of rest.

It is that place where we want to go in order to be successful in something but requires some degree of uncertainty and discomfort. The easiest example I can give you comes from the activity of running and yet it applies to many area of our lives.

I'm a Runner
I have been a runner since middle school. It started out as a way to be a part of something after school and soon turned into a school of discipline. I wasn't very fast as a sprinter so that only left one option: distance running. 

There's something about running for miles at a time that sets you apart from most people in the world. The most significant deciding factor as to how fast you can run is how well you can manage the pain and discomfort. The better you can manage those two things, the farther and faster you can run. I read once where Bernard Legat, the record-holding distance runner from Kenya had to endure circumcision with no anesthesia, without ever-so-much flinching. This was part of his teenager right-of-passage into manhood. I have to think anyone who can manage that pain, will have no problem managing the pain and discomfort of a long run.

This is the Dark Side. That part of what you are doing that is unknown and uncertain. These mysteries are what keep so many people away. It's not normal to voluntarily put yourself in a place of discomfort and pain. This is why so many will get close to that point and back away. I see it in others and I've done it myself. But yet, others crash right through the gate and keep on running.

"The best pace is a suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine [click HERE to Tweet this]

Moving Beyond
I already discussed how to move beyond these limitations. (Read it here...) The bottom line is that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. There has to be something inside of you that seals the deal. It's that small, still voice that says, "You got this! Just trust your preparation and go hard."

I experienced this in my own life as several friends were training for their first marathon (26.2 miles). They knew I enjoyed running and immediately attempted to get me on board. I resisted. Why? I did not want to pay the price of preparation and pain required to complete the run. Then they did another one and asked even harder than the first time. I still refused to join them. 

Then one afternoon, it it me..."I think I'll run a marathon." And that's what I did. I trained and ran for 16 weeks to be ready for my big race. All it took was the mental decision to be successful in finishing the marathon. Running the race required an enormous amount of discipline. Everything in my wanted to stop, but I had to make myself put one foot after the other in order to finish.

I say all of this to remind you of this one point. Your limitations are typically self-imposed. Stop it! Quit taking yourself out of the game before it even starts. Do the necessary work, position yourself and launch. Quit listening to yourself and win the battle of You vs. You. You can do this!

Lord, Watch over me today as I run.
This is the day and this is the time for the race.
Watch over my body.
Keep it free from injury.
Watch over my mind.
Watch over my spirit.
Watch over my competitors.
Remind us that we are struggling equally.
Lord, Let me win.
Not by coming in ahead of my friends, but by beating myself.
A battle won over me.

And may I say at the end,
"I have fought a good fight.
I have finished the race.
I have kept the faith."

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