Photo credit: Tiny Buddah
I walked away because I thought it was too hard.
And it’s still eating away at me.
6 months ago, after my father’s death, I made a proclamation, that I was going to do a 50k run. Keep in mind: I’d never done a run. Hell, before November, I’d never even run a mile.
So I started training for it.
I was listening to “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. I bought into the hype a bit, I thought, even if I’ve never run a marathon, half marathon, the longest event I’d ever done was walking a 15 mile Spartan Beast in 2016, and I had teammates to help me. Sure I’d done plenty of 5k races, but I’d walked them.
This was all new. This was something difficult to me, maybe too difficult. But I had to prove something to myself (as I often said to myself in the mirror).
I took all of my doubts and started to swallow them. I got to work to try and prove people wrong that I couldn’t (nay, shouldn’t) do a race of this caliber.
Within the first two weeks, I had run a mile in 12 minutes, then 10 minutes, then I had strung together 2 consecutive miles. I chronicled what was going to be a challenge
Then a month later, I had 4 miles, then 5 miles. But I still had 26 miles (a full marathon) to work through. The most miles I had run after three months was around 6. I started to get frustrated, then scared, then life got in the way.
Business life, personal life began battling for my time, and it wasn’t any contest. My training took a back seat, it had to, with so many issues coming up with family, business, and personal, it didn’t stand a chance. And moreover, I was doing this alone. I didn’t have the accountability I needed to have. I called them reasons, but let’s be honest, they were excuses. I tried to press on anyway.
The last day of training, 2 months until race day, I managed to kick out 8 miles at a 12/minute mile pace. I still had to do nearly 4 times this…and as the days piled up that I didn’t lace up, the Run With Hal app crying to me that I needed to get double digit mileage runs piled up to even be close to being ready, and, as I approached the one month marker, I had a decision to make. I wasn’t able to get out to train, I wasn’t ready, and I wasn’t going to be able to do the race.
So I made the call. I quit. I told the world that I did. It was met with nothing more than a “see, told you he wouldn’t go through with it.”
I saw David Goggins calling me a pussy. He was right. I made a goal and didn’t follow through. I’ve done this a lot in my life, making bold goals, then falling short or quitting if I think I’m not even going to get close. With bold goals, I’ve had help. I’ve had support. I didn’t reach out to the folks I needed to. I felt I had to do it alone, and it made the goal that much more insurmountable. My mind was the enemy, just as it was while I was training in the winter on treadmills, stopping to walk when I needed to push myself to run.
And like that, I was done. I didn’t know what to do. So I started to figure out what went wrong and what I needed to do to overcome this mindset that was consistently bogging me down.
At Least You Tried…
Maybe they’re right. Maybe the doubters win. But they aren’t out here trying to do this shit. They’re the ones sitting at home commenting on my FB post of being ass cold in my winter gear jogging in the snow.
They’re on Twitter telling me I’m not going to do it because I’m not running outside enough.
But they were right. I failed. I set the bar too high. I was hyped to be able to do something that maybe I didn’t think through.
But here’s the thing…I’m out here TRYING, dammit. While many can easily throw insults, doubts, or other obstacles down, I am out here trying. And trying is going to always be better than doing nothing, which is what may of your haters are doing.
Yes, results matter. But also, you get results when you are trying to get them. Sometimes, the only thing you can do to improve your lot in life is to TRY.
After making the call to pull out of the race, I felt horrible.
I felt like I had let all the people down who were rooting for me. I felt like the haters were going to descend upon me laughing about how I wasted my time and should be happy I quit, because it was too hard. I felt the gazes of those who I inspire, shaking their heads and telling me they’ve given up because I gave up.
But you know what I found out?
The only one that gave a shit….was me.
No one else cared. Sure, people were rooting for me, but they also didn’t understand the situations that I was engaged in, they aren’t me, nor will they ever be. I had to make a tough call where I had to weigh the personal issues I was having with my training.
When it comes to importance, my family and career have precedence over the training. I needed to man the a post in my personal life, and it took away from my training. I knew this, and so I made the call.
I got a ton of advice, was seeking out someone to help me order this stuff in my life, when I knew damn well how important things were and where then needed to be. I was afraid of quitting. Because I was told there was no justification for it, regardless how much is going on in your life.
But people who often say this will sacrifice anything and everything for the goal. The goal becomes an obsession, and it takes away from every other aspect of their lives, so other sectors of their life suffer, family, friends, relationships, career, etc.
The key, as always, is balance. And I wasn’t going to be able to pull off this balancing act. And I knew it.
But why did I need justification to do something that was justified?
This was the crux of the storm in my mind.
Much of my life, follow through has been a problem.
Hell, just weeks ago, I was in a Tough Mudder and wanted to quit two of the obstacles. It took men helping me get over it to understand that this has been my modus operandi for much of my life.
I start, but don’t finish. I find justification for quitting.
It’s something that many people struggle with. And it’s what keeps many from realizing their true potentials.
I still have the fear of my old self inside of me, even though I have done some pretty amazing things.
The default was always flight. The default now is a mixture, and there are situations that still flummox me because I haven’t done enough to overcome the doubt. But then I think about all the times I did overcome the doubt. It takes time, which is why I will finish with this story:
When I was tipping the scales at 308 lbs, I wanted to lose the weight, but the motivation wasn’t there. I stopped and started a multitude of times, giving up when I probably could have made a breakthrough.
When I wanted to lose weight and go to the gym, I quit often. I would drive my car intent on going to the gym, but went home and ate bad food. When I should have been cooking at home, I ate out and ate badly. I felt sorry for myself often.
Mind you, I did this for years. DECADES.
I always made excuses for not doing it. Then, after years of trying, one day, it finally clicked. I started going religiously. I decided to change my diet and cook more, I stopped drinking soda, eating out, and decided to track my macros. I hired coaches to help me with accountability. This was an evolution that took years to manifest.
And one thing about this evolution, it was the trying that got me over the hump. Look, I’m not going to do hundred mile races or thousands of pull ups like Goggins. It’s not fair to expect that of me, let alone anyone else. But I do have to push myself to be better, and that may be instant or it may take time.
Either way, quitting made me reconsider the goals I was setting. Were they too high? What could I do that was hard, but not overwhelming? So I decided to fix that and make a goal I could make.
After I got back from the Tough Mudder, I had noticed that a big weakness of mine was walls. I needed to do body weight exercises and pull ups and pushups were the best way to go.
So I developed a pyramid where I started at 50 pushups and 5 pullups and added 25 pushups a day and 1-2 pullups a day over 30 days.
At the pinnacle, I would have to perform 700 pushups and 35 pull ups in a day. I knew it would be difficult, but I also knew that I could do it.
And I did. I chronicled my pushup and pull up journey on my socials and I hit the goals.
Sometimes, you need some confidence by setting smaller, more manageable goals to get you to the bigger dream.
Look, I don’t want to do Iron Mans. I hate running. I don’t want to do marathons. I needed to be honest with myself on what I wanted to improve in. If you hate doing something, why make it a goal? I enjoy obstacles, I enjoy shorter OCR races. I need to be stronger with my body weight. So I re-focused on something that I could do, something that would make me better where I wanted to be better.
And I’m better for it. I’m not going to beat myself up anymore trying to do things that I have no interest in doing in the name of goals.
What specific goals do you want to achieve? Then set out a plan to achieve them, bit by bit.
Eat the elephant if you want, but stop worrying about how fast and how it looks to others. This is your life, your goals. Go at them as hard as you can, but don’t get disappointed if you don’t get there as fast as others want you to.