When it comes to fitness and running, I have some lofty goals and high expectations. Right now I’m in the thick of marathon training, and when I look at my entire 16-week plan, it scares me to death. HOW am I going to DO all that AND still be everything my family needs me to be? It’s so hard to think about the finish line when you’re just at the starting point. As a new runner I would have never dreamed that someday I’d be a Boston qualifier.
When my oldest kids started taking violin lessons 4 ½ years ago, it took several weeks before they even got to put the bow on the strings.
The first several months of learning the basics were long and painful. When they finally learned the “E-String Concerto” my heart swelled with pride as they played that SINGLE note to the rhythm of “Running-running-walk-walk.”
It seriously took almost an entire year to get through their first “real” song. I watched proudly as they performed in their first solo recital.
But then some of the more advanced students stood up to play. I was both amazed and horrified. There was NO WAY my kids would EVER be able to play like that. It had taken us a YEAR just to play the 6 variations of Twinkle—the EASIEST song possible.
And that year? It was FULL of tears, frustration, kicking and screaming. Daily practice. Perfecting posture. Bow holds. Weekly group class. Weekly private lessons.
I watched those advanced students, and my heart sank. I just couldn’t do it. We would NEVER get there. We almost quit.
Luckily recitals don’t happen every day, so I soon forgot about the awesomeness I’d heard, and we went back to our squeaky practicing. We slowly moved through the Suzuki repertoire, and after nearly 4 years, we finally made it through Book 1. Last Saturday, we had our annual solo recital once again.
I smiled as the sweet new kids got up to play Twinkle (including my 3rd child who started taking lessons a year ago). My oldest kids still have a long ways to go (we’re only halfway through book 2), but they were AMAZING. Their performances of Gossec Gavotte and Waltz by Brahms were a far-cry from their first squeaky Twinkles.
As much as I wanted to clap and cheer, I REALLY wanted to run up to the parents of those just starting and tell them NOT TO LISTEN. Just keep their heads down, and keep doing the daily work. They’ll get there…one note at a time.
When I ran my first marathon 12 ½ years ago, I would have laughed if someone had told me that one day I would qualify and run the Boston marathon. No way could I do that. When I first started running, Boston wasn’t even a goal. Not even a dream. Not even a possibility. But somehow I went from a non-runner to a Boston qualifier.
I kept showing up. I found my favorite group fitness classes, pushed baby after baby in the jogging stroller, and eventually started teaching my own group fitness classes. My strength grew. And then 6 years after my first marathon, I signed up for another.
After consistently working out for years, I was “suddenly” faster! I finished my second marathon a full hour faster than my first.
Now as a running coach, I always tell my clients running their first marathon to never, ever think about how many miles they have left until they reach the finish line. Set smaller goals, and eventually they’ll be at mile 26. I try to run smaller races within the larger race. Sometimes I run four 10K’s, and then the last 2 miles.
No one ever jumps out of bed with no running experience and decides to go for a nice 15-mile run. You start with a single mile. And then two. And then three, four, five. After a few months of consistent running, those three mile runs are easy. The pace that once took your breath away is now your recovery pace.
I try not to think about the entire 16-weeks of training. I just plan for the week ahead. And then I look ahead to the next. Eventually I look back at all I’ve accomplished, thrilled that it’s finally time to taper, and hoping I’ve done enough.
When you look at your lofty goals, don’t get overwhelmed. Just keep plugging away, putting one foot in front of the other. Then go to bed, wake up, and do it again. There will be some awful, discouraging, even painful “miles.” But there will be some spectacular runs too. Eventually you’ll look back, amazed at all you’ve accomplished, whether at a finish line or a violin recital, so long as you don’t give up. Don’t quit. Small, daily steps.
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