sticking it out

Training for a marathon is teaching me endurance and perseverance. It’s not just anybody who can set out and run for hours. It takes some real cojones. I only set out on out-and-back runs, rather than recurring loops. On loops, it’s easy to quit prematurely. But on the out-and-backs, once you get out, you have to run back.

I have learned it is more mental than physical, running for what seems like forever. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very physical too. Trust me, I’ve got a blister on my big toe screaming, “it’s physical!” But fighting the excuses you give yourself to turn around early and do less than you planned is the real achievement.

While reflecting on my long run today, I thought about how I’m much more of a sprinter than a distance runner. People think of me as motivated, and I definitely am, but only in short-term goals. I kill it at project work, but give me something that takes more than a few months and I get bored or tired and peter out. Perhaps this is why I’ve never finished a book, even though I’ve been writing since I was twelve.  

People who last decades at the same job baffle me. I have never even held a job for three years. I am quick to start something, and quick to quit. I quit running track in high school, I quit piano lessons, I switched colleges after three semesters, I’ve held a dozen restaurant jobs. When anything gets overwhelming or daunting, I leave and move onto something else.

So every week that I run even farther than the last week without quitting early, I know I am taking baby steps towards perseverance. I am learning to stick with things, even when the going gets hard. I guess I have been learning that through marriage and parenting, so maybe it’s really taken me ten years to learn this about myself, to start changing this bad habit of mine.

Running a marathon is impressive not because of one morning spent running during the actual event, but because of the commitment it signifies. And when I think of commitment, I think of the best thing in my life, the one thing that has stuck for a decade: my relationship with Steve. I realize, good things come to those who persevere. I kept reminding myself that as I ran today, over and over, for sixteen miles.

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