How do you challenge yourself?
Real challenges have to include a real risk of failure! I didn’t used to take on real challenges. I used to set “fake” goals I could do easily to boost my self-esteem.
My trail running challenge
An acquaintance and Facebook friend failed twice in his attempt to run a 50 mile trail run last year. When he succeeded in September 2017, I said to myself, “I bet I can do that.”
My 50 mile trail-running challenge is in a little over 10 days. This is a real challenge. My success isn’t guaranteed.
I made an intermediate goal to run a fifty-kilometer trail race the end of July 2018. I almost failed.
Here are seven lessons I learned in the process of running 50K. You can apply these lessons to running, business, or life as you please.
1. Under-prepared is better than over-prepared.
I thought didn’t have enough training miles in the bank when race-day arrived. A minor injury messed up my plans to get my legs strong.
But an experienced runner told me under-training is better than over-training.
2. Set an ambitious goal. But also set a bottom line “must-have” goal.
My goal was to finish the race in 8 hours and 50 minutes. My bottom-line goal was to make the cutoff time at the 20 mile point. After that, my goal was to finish the race. I made the cutoff, but I didn’t make my time goal. I finished in 9:08.
3. Don’t get talked out of your goals by the people who matter in your life.
The most important person in my life doesn’t understand why I want to run crazy distances on dirt trails. She cares about me and didn’t want me to die of heat stroke. She said she was proud of me even if I didn’t make it the full 30 miles.
My mental resolve wavered at 18 miles. I knew I could bail out at 20 miles and she wouldn’t care. I stumbled into the aid station with only minutes to spare before the cutoff. I told the volunteers, “I don’t think I have another 10 miles in me.”
4. Let others help you and encourage you.
The volunteers at the aid station jumped into action. I sat in a chair while they dumped ice water on me, took my water bottles and filled them, handed me a Coke and some watermelon, and put a bandanna full of ice around my neck. They they stood me up and said, “You just beat the cutoff. You can finish the race.”
5. Keep moving forward.
Making the cutoff meant I was the last runner on the course. I just concentrated on moving forward. The clean-up crew was right behind me. But I knew I was going to finish.
6. DFL is better than DNF
I was DFL: dead freaking last. I had to wrap my mind around the fact that all the aid station volunteers were waiting on me to finish before they could go home. But no one acted impatient. They are runners too. They knew I ran faster than everyone who was DNF: did not finish. Because I made the cutoff!
In the past, I haven’t been good at celebrating my wins! If you’ve read my previous few posts, you may recall that I haven’t had many real wins in my life. But even when I win (or accomplish a goal) I haven’t done well at savoring and celebrating the joy of what I achieved. But this time I made sure to let my emotions out. I finished! That was my bottom-line goal. I felt good!
Take on real challenges
I have no doubt I can make my 50 mile trail running goal. Of course, I might fail. But the chance of failure is what makes it a real challenge.
Whatever challenge you face, keep these seven lessons in mind. Above all, keep moving forward.
I’d love to know what challenges you’re working on. One way to keep the conversation going is to be part of our email group. Drop me a note and let me know how I can encourage you.