Don’t pray for lighter burdens, but for stronger backs.
Before I even begin my attempt to run 54 miles on my treadmill, I know a few things about the experience. I have never completed or even attempted such a long distance run before. I have, however, had many life experiences which will be of tremendous benefit and certainly considerable training specific work to both prepare me and build my confidence. I also know without any doubt that it will be hard and that I will likely want to quit several times during the nearly 8 hours of continuous running likely involved in my reaching this goal.
As Buddha subtly suggests, there is an aspect of accountability in managing difficult tasks. When I cannot make the task less difficult, I need to make myself stronger or more prepared for the task. In a fashion, this does make the task less difficult, I suppose. Certainly this is done in part through the training specific to the run. It may also be managed by a mindfulness allowing us to be aware of the additional tools we already have, if only we choose to bring them to bear.
Two of these that I want to bring into focus are endurance and gratitude. Endurance, beyond the physical aspect of running, is also a mental skill I have long cultivated in managing challenge. Our mind typically wants to surrender long before our body truly needs to stop; the willful determination to continue often requires telling the voice inside my head I do not choose to listen to the doubt or surrender, and I instead offer my own internal voice of confidence and commitment to continue. Endurance is in part buoyed by the choice to be the speaker in my mind rather than the listener, especially when things become the most difficult.
Gratitude is another tool of sorts that complements this approach. There are many current studies highlighting the positive results of practiced appreciation and gratitude. Mental and physical health benefits are noted at statistically significant levels, as is the ability to cultivate ever increasing levels of attainable gratitude from simply making strides in practicing appreciation regularly.
I attempt a daily routine of appreciation and it has been a benefit in my daily life. In the hardest later miles of this run, I will replace my doubting inner monologue with expression of gratitude for many things in my life. Each of these will lift my spirit and my steps in that time of need. My focus will be on the positive rather than the negative and that is always momentum in the right direction.
As a final observation, I’ll be doing a tremendous amount of work and yet I will literally be running in place. How often we feel like we are going nowhere and yet that is all a matter of perspective. I will factually (if successful) run 54 miles. More than the miles, I will strengthen my resolve and endurance physically and even more so mentally. I’ll improve my talent at using appreciation to incorporate gratitude’s positivity into my life. My abilities to reach for and achieve goals likewise will grow in measure equivalent to this daunting challenge.
Even should I fail in the attempt, failure is temporary when we choose a path of perseverance and resiliency. I will learn from the experience and set the stage for my eventual future success. By the time this blog is released that success or failure will be known although I’d suggest the success is assured from the process involved to this point already and the commitment to learn from the experience. This is why I encourage all of you to set your sights on strides, literal or otherwise, to improve your lives and continue to become the best versions of yourselves personally, professionally and philanthropically.
I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism have brought me to my ideas.
― Albert Einstein
Editor’s note: Randy successfully ran 54 miles on his treadmill Dec. 5 with a final time of 8 hours, 25 minutes. Great job, Randy!