Running is a dick.
This is because running refuses to ever get easier.
And it’s never like you think it is while you’re watching someone run in a movie.
You know that montage where Rocky Balboa is training to fight the juiced-up, tech-trained Russian, Ivan Drago?
And Rocky goes from moderately buff, to super-psycho ripped? And he does all these killer workouts and he pushes to the max and you know he does because you see him running along the peak of a snowy mountain and you see Drago running on a super-steep treadmill and you hear them breathing, and you can tell they’re giving it their all and they’re really pushing themselves to their limits. And it’s impressive,
and you think to yourself,
“I could do that.”
And so you go for a run,
and after a few blocks you start to breathe a little heavier,
and your legs feel a little hollow,
and you think,
“I would like to stop now; maybe I should stop and walk for just a little bit until my body warms up, and then I can run.
But then you remember Rocky, and you push through,
and you feel good that you push through,
and then after, like, thirty seconds you think,
“maybe I should take a little break,
because I didn’t stretch, and I don’t want an injury.”
And then maybe you do stop for just a second, because you’re not Rocky or Drago, but then you start to run again. And then the cycle continues.
When I run, my brain is like:
Brain: “Dude, you should quit. We should just walk for a bit.”
Me: “Um, legs and lungs seem to be fine. Now just think positive, and let’s do this.”
Brain: “Yeah, man, I’ll shut up. Health, abundance, strength, gratitude. I’ll just focus on those things. We’re good. You can do this. We can do this.”
Me: “Sweet! This is awesome. I’m going to kick ass. I’m a real runner. I’m just like Rocky.”
[30 seconds later]
Brain: “Hey, dude, I wonder if we should take a break.”
Me: “What??? Are you kidding me? We literally just decided to push through the pain. Remember that conversation??”
Brain: “Well, yeah, but I mean, I’m just looking out for the rest of the body and I wonder if we should, you know, cool it just a little. You know? I mean, we can always start back up. But a little walk never hurt nobody.”
Me: “Look, I really want to push through. I’m sure that once we do, the rest of the run will go fine. Don’t make me call Will Power.”
Brain: “Dude, Will took off, like, a mile ago. But that’s cool, I know this is important to you, I’ll just focus on breathing and, you know, being awesome and kicking ass and stuff.”
Me: “Thank you.”
Brain: “Hey, so…how much longer? Are we almost to the finish line?”
Me: “We’ve got, like 12 minutes to go!”
Brain: “Ok, cool, just thought I’d check. It seems like it’s a little harder than it was a couple minutes ago, so I just wanted to make sure we didn’t push it too far, you know? Injuries and all that stuff.”
But this post isn’t about running. It’s about accomplishment.
And it’s about how a montage in a movie doesn’t aptly communicate just how hard a true accomplishment really is. A montage gets you excited about committing to something and starting it. It doesn’t show how difficult it is to push through to the end.
And sometimes there is no end in sight. Sometimes you are pushing and you need to keep pushing; hoping it will eventually get easier. Hoping that the answers will make themselves known.
For instance when I’m writing a blog post, checking email is never more important than just after I write a sentence I’m happy with. No, like, every sentence. Just count the sentences in this post and you’ll know exactly how many times I checked my email. Times 4.3.
And I think accomplishment, all accomplishment is kind of like that.
It starts out as a fun idea. And it seems like it should be easy, because the actual work isn’t that hard. But as you get deeper, you start to question yourself. You question how much time you can or should devote to it. You realize that you’re just a novice and everybody else is an expert. And that they started much earlier than you. And that people your age are busy focusing on decent careers that pay them good money. And it’s time for you to grow up and be realistic.
This whole adulthood race is a real bugger.
But you know what, it’s a bugger for everybody. Accomplishment is hard.
And in that fact lies the opportunity.
Everybody could be doing better than they are. But very few will actually put in the focused effort. Very few will successfully tell their brains to shut up and push forward. Very few will set up a routine and stick to it. Very few will push though.
And that means there’s a chance. Even in this whole big world of over-achievers, there’s a chance for your accomplishment to get noticed. To get appreciated. There’s a chance for you to create something that you’re proud of. And sure, maybe you have to create something—a lot of somethings—that don’t live up to what you wanted to create.
But there’s value in pushing through to the end.
And even if nobody ever appreciates what you did, that doesn’t take away the fact that you did it. That you pushed through. And that will change you. It will shape you. And in retrospect, the time you spent working on it will be like your own inspirational montage.
Yo Adrienne, cue the music.