Move with Your Feet
We arrived in Washington DC last Friday evening in anything but stylish fashion. I was feeling extremely ill, and uncertain whether or not I would be able to run come Sunday. All I could do was hydrate as much as possible, and replenish my body of nutrients that had been depleted over the previous four days. This was my plan, and I was prepared and braced to run on Sunday. After all, I had someone running next to me that I needed to make sure ran well enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2016.
Have you ever worked yourself to exhaustion preparing for something – making sure that you have planned for every circumstance? Then, it’s as if disaster strikes; something in the environment changes so rapidly that you are uncertain how to react. It’s the months you spent preparing for a presentation, only to find out it’s being cancelled the night before. It’s the hours spent studying for an exam, only to find out it’s going to be in essay format as opposed to multiple choice. And in my case, it’s the weeks of 4:30am training runs before work, only to have a bad case of food poisoning the week of the race.
Any of the previous examples would almost certainly throw a wrench into your plans. Feelings of helplessness, uncertainty, and possibly fear, of not completing what you set out to accomplish. So, how do you overcome these emotions, maintain a positive attitude, and attain your goals? I like to call it the ‘Theory of One More’. The purpose of this theory is to allow you continue with whatever momentum you currently have and make one last push – one more push – over and over again.
The day’s can be long sometimes; no one answers the phones, returns your emails or will take the time to see you. But it’s the act of making one more call or sending one more email. It’s the act of writing one more page for your term paper and putting your thoughts down on paper. It’s the act of continuing to move forward, one step at a time. And with the Theory of One More, I was prepared. For 26.2 miles I was going to move with my feet, keep my momentum moving forward, and repeat the process until completing the race. Move my feet and run with heart.
Run with your Heart
There is a quote about running that states, “Run the first two-thirds of the race with your head and the last third with your heart”. What is it that you enjoy doing the most? Do you like to dance, do you enjoy drawing, do you love to work? Whatever it is that energizes you and you have made your passion, re-word the above quote and insert the action word of your choice in place of the word run. ‘Dance the first two-thirds of the routine with your head and the last third with your heart’. At some point in time, put your heart into your efforts. Physically, your heart keeps you alive. Mentally, your heart will carry you to new heights.
‘Running’ with heart is not always easy. The road may be all uphill. Your project deadline is approaching. Sickness has set in and has you doubting how to take the next step and move with your feet. When the surrounding forces are caving in and the pressure is building, how do you run with heart?
- Rely on past experiences – Remember all the hardships and obstacles you have overcome in getting to the present. Realize that you have grown immeasurably and your development has made you stronger.
- Create a positive perception – Throughout the Marine Corps Marathon, spectators donned signs with creative words to motivate and inspire runners. One sign in particular helped me maintain a positive mindset despite the physical hardship I endured. It stated, ‘It’s 10 water stations to go, not 26.2 miles’. At this point in time, ten remaining segments sounded much more appealing than 26 segments. Take a ride on the energy bus and find yourself focusing on the positive.
- Rely on the people around you – No matter how strong you think you are (physically and mentally), I can guarantee there is someone in the vicinity that is stronger. Draw from their strength – their attitude – and use it as fuel to keep moving. For me, it was the group of young Marines running 26.2 miles in full combat gear. It was the war veterans in wheelchairs pushing their way through the entire course. It was the mile stretch of road with posters celebrating the lives of fallen soldiers – many of whom are much younger than me. In many ways, it was the strength of these people that helped me through. Find these people in your life, and use them as support when you are ready to fall.
Once you find the heart to push through hardship, you will find that your goal is well within reach. And as the finish line looms in your future, recruit every bit of strength you can, because it’s now time to ‘Take the Hill’.
Take the Hill
Military accounts of ‘taking the hill’ refer to the final moments in battle. The last days of a long war when soldiers are battered, bruised and exhausted. It’s the final push to a long awaited victory. Along the way, battles are won and lost, but today, on this day, the war is won. The terrain to reach the top of the hill is damn hard, but you can reach it. And you can do it by taking the hill.
Throughout the race course last week, we ran through Georgetown University, Crystal City, National Mall and other prominent landmarks in the US Capital. Then, after 26 miles, we were challenged to ‘Take the Hill’. Picking up the pace and heading down the final stretch, the course took a sharp left turn. At this point in time, it was the last thing a runner’s eyes want to see – a steep grade hill climb to the finish. It’s the moment when you look at the person next to you with a piercing glare and say, “You have got to be shitting me!”
You look ahead a little bit further and notice the hundreds of Marines in uniform cheering you on and waiting to congratulate you as you reach the top. The only option is to continue doing what you have done the entire race – move with your feet and run with your heart. Because when you reach the top, you will reflect back on all that you have accomplished. All that you have fought through, and all of the people that were by your side the entire way.
The ‘hill’ in your life can be intimidating. For some, it might force you in the other direction. Others it may slow you down. But, I promise you that the reward is in your arrival at the top. Whether it’s the job you have been searching for after months of being unemployed, or the cancer free diagnosis after months of chemotherapy. It’s waiting for you as long as you continue to move your feet and run with your heart.
And so my fiancé and I took to the hill. Simultaneously crossing the finish line in 3:30:27 – enough for her to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon by four and a half minutes. For her, overcoming a two year battle of injuries including knee surgery this year. For me, overcoming four days of dehydration to provide support for the person next to me. We were prepared for success and our goal was simple – move our feet, run with our hearts, and take the damn hill.