I'm not a regular runner by any means. I jog from time to time, but I don't have a regime that I follow with any kind of discipline. Last week however I decided to go for a run. I think it had to do with all the calories I've been consuming at graduation parties, and I was feeling the need to exercise. Whatever motivated me to do it worked.
Usually when I run I try to challenge myself and see how far I can push the distance. For some reason, last week I decided that I would try to go 6.2 miles, which was almost two miles further than any distance I'd attempted to run this year. To make the situation even more punishing, I took off on my run at 2:30 in the afternoon with the sun beating down and temperatures in the high 80s. Hardly what anyone would consider ideal conditions for distance running.
The first three miles of the run went great. I was cruising along and I covered the first half of the run in twenty six minutes. For someone who doesn't run much, three consecutive sub 9 minute miles is pretty good. I was feeling strong. And then it hit me. The heat. The thirst. The pain. And the desire to quit.
Mile 4 was a punishing 14 minutes that included a 5 minute walk.
Mile 5 was even worse. 20 minutes of jogging and walking and hoping not to die.
But something changed inside me and Mile 6 was different than the previous two. For mile six I repeated five words to myself over and over again. "Just finish one more mile." "Just finish one more mile." Those five words keep me focused, and before I knew it, I cruised across the finish line completing my last mile in 11 minutes.
Sometimes the details of life hit like a six mile run in the heat of the day. There are times when you are cruising along. The wind is at your back. You're running downhill. It all seems so effortless. And then you crash unexpectedly into a wall. Now there's pain. The wind whips across your face. You just wish you could quit. What was going so well is now incredibly difficult.
Running has taught me many things about the remarkable ability of the human body to push through pain. It is a metaphor for life. A snapshot of the resiliency of the human spirit. It is when you start to feel like throwing in the towel and quitting that I hope you remember the words, "Just finish one more mile." If you will resolve in your times of trouble and trial to "just finish one more mile" you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Some people never push through the wall. They throw in the towel and quit the game. In quitting they are successful in avoiding pain, but they miss out on the exhilaration of crossing the finish line emptied of all energy and yet filled up with the joy of accomplishing what they before never thought possible.