I can run three miles in 30 minutes. On a good day, I can run it in about 28. People think that’s really cool. I let them because I think it’s cool too. Okay, mostly I think it’s hot, sweaty, and painful, but I digress. It’s still cool.
There was a time when I couldn’t run three miles. There was a time when I couldn’t run even a mile. In fact, I could barely run for two minutes when I started back in May. The first few runs I did were a huge blow to my self-esteem. I was pretty ashamed I couldn’t run very fast or very far. Especially when I worked out at a campus gym filled with young, fit college students. Then I stopped focusing on what everyone else could do, and just focused on myself. You, exquisitely toned sophomore running like a sparkly gazelle in yoga pants. You don’t exist. And I slowly worked my way up to three miles.
And I only met my goal by doing baby steps. Thousands of baby steps. Ugh.
I was pretty ashamed about that too. The day I decided to start running, I wanted to be able to go out the door and run as far as I wanted to. Heck, I’m still in my 20s. I’m not overweight and don’t have any major health problems. I should be able to do so, right? Wrong. When I was out-of-breath two minutes later, I knew my way wasn’t going to work. I was going to have to start from the beginning and go slow. I was going to have to take my time and take baby steps to reach my goal.
Me? Take baby steps? I have a master’s degree for crying out loud! I thought those days were over. Not so fast. I’m just starting the process of learning how to take care of myself. I have to start with small steps. It’s been awhile since I’ve learned something new. Usually, I’m the teacher. Turns out, life outside the classroom has some things to teach me. Two college degrees later and I still have a few lessons to learn.
Every day I went for a run was a small baby step forward. Every one-tenth of a mile was a small baby step forward. Every minute spent running was a small baby step forward. With those big, hairy, scary goals, you have to start small. Really small. Like “run for two minutes and try do it again tomorrow” small. As an academic, I learned to celebrate the “big wins.” Finishing a mid-term paper. Passing the final exam. And of course, all the semester’s work came down to the final grade. All that hard work and a semester’s long journey isn’t worth it unless I got that ‘A.’ Now, I know I may not take the biggest, most grand, most exciting step forward today, but as long as I took one step forward, I’m getting there. As long as I don’t give up, I’m still getting there.
Every day does not have to be perfect for my life to be good.
Just take one step forward. Not every run I have is going to have is great. I can’t always run for three miles. I can’t always run for 30 minutes. Not every day I have is going to be great. I don’t go to the gym every day. I don’t always eat what’s best for me (hey what’s up Reese’s Pieces). But as long as I can tell myself I take one baby step forward today, I feel good. Just one baby step forward each day. That I can do.