Perseverence (AKA “No, It’s Not OK To Quit”)
Late Saturday afternoon, I set out to run 20 miles.
I’d love to say it was a beautiful run, filled with energy and good thoughts, but in reality it was terrible. After mile one I was in pain. After mile three it was worse.
This was an important training run for the Chicago Marathon I’ve signed up for in October, and I almost quit. I thought about turning around or walking home, or even calling a cab and paying for it with the cash I had put in the bottom of my shoe.
Instead, I kept going and made it to a golf course, where I was evicted on the 15th hole by a security guard in a cart. “This is private property,” he told me.
Normally I would have pointed out the “Open to the Public” sign or otherwise protested, but I had no heart for it and agreed to leave. I needed mileage however I could get it, so I ran back around the course and out to the street.
A few miles later, I made it to the airport. Greetings, PDX! The airport is like a second home to me, but I’m usually arriving by taxi or train, not on foot. I watched the Horizon flights take off toward Boise and Seattle, and I tried to cheer myself with the realization I had made it that far.
By now I was at mile 8 or 9 according to Runkeeper, the iPhone app I’ve been using to track my training. Then I made it to the Columbia river, where I climbed to the top of the ridge and kept going. Thanks to the golf course detour, I hadn’t completely run in one direction, so I turned ahead at Mile 11 instead of Mile 10. Only 9 more miles to go!
By this point I was fully committed. No matter what, I’d have to get back home. I abandoned all thoughts of taxis, and kept moving forward step by step.
I ran back to where I had started more than 90 minutes earlier … and it hurt. All the way. Not every step, but definitely every mile. I started walking a bit every few minutes. My pace was now more than ten minutes per mile, slower than I’d prefer under ordinary circumstances, but this time I didn’t care. All that mattered was: Just keep going.
I finally made it back to my neighborhood and looped around Laurelhurst Park a couple of times, each turn more excruciating than the last. The final three-tenths of a mile felt like five kilometres. I timed my stop for exactly twenty miles, not wanting to go even a tiny bit further.
It was finally over, so I hobbled into Laughing Planet and ordered a lot of food, speaking incoherently to the cashier. A mango smoothie appeared in front of me, which I sipped while waiting to take home the rest of the order.
Ten minutes later, I stumbled back to my house and laid down on the floor, shivering from the cold even though it was still warm outside. I was dehydrated and felt strangely disoriented. Despite burning approximately 2600 calories (according to Runkeeper), I had no appetite.
Finally I got up and finished the smoothie, turning on the water for a hot shower. I looked down at the bathroom floor and saw shards of glass everywhere. “That’s odd,” I thought. Then I remembered I had a glass of water in my hand a few minutes before. I must have dropped it, causing it to shatter on the floor, but I had no memory of doing so.
Oops. Dehydration and exhaustion must have been kicking in. I swept up the shards and hopped in the shower, letting the hot water soak into my skin as I slowly began to recover.
And then I smiled. Hell yeah! I said out loud to no one. I ran 20 miles!
Part of overcoming is to understand when to quit and when to keep going. When you’re first learning to run, you want to be careful not to overdo it. Your muscles need to be trained, and you should be careful to avoid adding on mileage too quickly. Any sign of real pain is a good sign to regroup and go slow.
But after a while, when you really start training for a long race, sometimes it hurts. At least for most of us, it’s not natural to run for three and a half hours straight. There are times when you should back off to prevent injury, and there are times you should ignore the pain and keep going.
When you take on a big challenge and encounter obstacles, you tend to encounter a voice in your head that offers you an easy escape. Sometimes this voice also comes forth in an opinion offered by well-meaning people in your life. Either way, the voice says:
You don’t have to do this. It’s OK to quit.
But you know better, right? Yes, you do have to do this.
You may need people in your life who say you should take it easy and not always try so hard. But if you know in your heart that you’ll be dissatisfied with defeat, you owe it to yourself to keep going.
I hated the first ten miles this weekend, and I continued to struggle through the second ten miles. But later, as I expected, I was glad I did it. On Sunday I stumbled around the house, accomplishing little except trying to remember to stretch.
As it stands now, I’m not really prepared to run Chicago in October, but I’ll go for it anyway. If it works, it will be because of this run. If for some reason it doesn’t, I’ve done everything I could do.
Whatever. I’m glad and have no regrets.
“It doesn’t matter if you quit.” // “YES, OF COURSE IT MATTERS.”
You are a winner, right?
If so, do what you have to do. Avoid the golf course security guard, walk as much as you need, lie on the bathroom floor if you have to.
But don’t quit. Persevere! Run the race!
You’ll be happier that you did.
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Update: ran the marathon. 🙂
I love the tipping point! At least we can find solace in the fact that while we may be tempted to quit- sometimes all it takes is going halfway before you know there is no turning back. Good to remember. If we can just make it half way- the rest will follow! Love this article! (and good luck at the race!)
I just started running a little over a month ago. I’ve never been much of a runner, even back in my younger days, and always struggled to run any long distance when it was required in school. In 32 days running I was able to run my very first mile. I’m looking forward to running longer distances and also upping my running speed. Thanks for sharing this story, it’s good inspiration for me to keep going.
I’m running the CM too! If I had to write something about my training, it would sound very much like this. Best of luck to you at CM.
First…glad you didn’t cut yourself on the glass. Second, so needed to hear this as we are starting to launch and monetize a couple online sites and it has been starting to feel like a 9-5 job would be easier, not to mention that everyone around us reminds us that yes that would be easier and don’t you want to over work yourself and never spend time doing what you love. I am not quitting….not today! Thank you 🙂
I know exactly how you feel and am grateful for this, it came at exactly the right time. I have just spent three days doing something I planned for half a day, now I won’t get much sleep for the next week as I try and catch up on the stuff I was meant to be doing for a launch on the 4th of September. I was thinking about moving the launch back a week or so, but now I know its not an option, just keep running is what I have to do.
Thanks, I think.
I like this a lot! Quitting is not okay!
I’ve just started preparing for a charity cycle from one end of Ireland to the other, will be more than 500miles.
Really looking forward to it and I know that the only way I can complete this is through dedication and perseverance.
The tipping point as Elle has said is so valuable in any endeavour. Go so far that it’s easier to keep going and you are going to succeed.
Ahhh, I know this road. Last year, I did the NYC Marathon with barely any training. BUT I had done three marathons before and in painful conditions and survived, so I figured I could do NYC. It was both the best and the worst marathon of my life. Even with the crying and the walking and the pain and the thought in my head that said, “you can stop now, Sara, you don’t need to finish” I got through to the finish line and then cried my eyes out in happiness and relief and sadness because it was over and because I was in pain. Either way, agreed Chris, sometimes quitting isn’t an option. Good luck with the Chicago Marathon and congrats on 20 miles – it is no easy feat!
Thanks for the kick in the pants…I too have a marathon looming ever closer, and I’ve not been able to train properly for this one. I had a cardiac ablation (procedure) back in January to get rid of atrial fibrillation, and it worked, but it seems to have changed how my heart and lungs work together under exercise load…I need walk breaks now and I never did before. The Twin Cities Marathon is October 6th, and I have no runs over 12 miles. I am guaranteed to suffer both physically from the event and mentally from a lousy time. On bad training runs, my mind drifts to just sleeping in that morning…people will certainly understand. On decent runs, finishing seems within reach. Now, Chris’ blog on perserverence has “thrown the switch” to doing the event. I won’t run a Boston Qualifier time or record a PR, but I may be running slow enough to take more in…things I normally tune out…like the music, the spectators, the smells, the other runners, and it might very well turn into a memorable event. Nothing heroic, nor life-changing…but not running this marathon would, in a small way, define me. I’m in.
Thanks for sharing the story. In my case, it is often my head that says “it’s ok to quit, everyone else does, it’s normal”, while my heart always whisper “you can do this…believe in yourself even if no one else does.”
I love this statement Chris made: “You may need people in your life who say you should take it easy and not always try so hard. But if you know in your heart that you’ll be dissatisfied with defeat, you owe it to yourself to keep going.”
As an writer, I’ve discovered that most people outside of the profession don’t understand what it is I do. Those that do, frequently tell me to “take it easy”, like Chris posted today. He makes a great point that sometimes you do have to just ignore those voices and keep chugging along. I tend to feel dissatisfaction when I’m not pushing myself to accomplish as much as I know that I’m capable of.
I’m curious — how do others handle this situation?
This is something I tweeted about this morning. My solution? Create transparency in your goals so others who understand your goals can help you stay accountable. They need to be “crystal clear” so I am now using a hashtag, #ccgoals, to that end.
Thank you for this post which just re-affirms what I’ve been thinking about today.
Have a blessed day,
I have had this same running experience although no shattered glass. After getting my diagnosis of being bipolar and finding medication that worked, I needed to find a way to regain the mental confidence that I was under control, in control. I remain grateful to that inner voice that never let me stop and to this moment, I remind myself I can do what I have to do. When I get very discouraged, my mantra becomes, “Just one more day…today. C’mon, you can do it just one more day”. And I can!
Thank you, for the reminder, it’s been over 20 years since I’ve ran and when I started running I use to think..my mind wants to give up before my body ever gives up..so, I kept going and was able to finish. I can equate that to starting my business. Don’t give up-don’t let my mind even start to let me give up. Keep going, sometimes I might have to tweak my plans but don’t give up. I think that’s how to be successful. Perseverance is the key. Also enjoy and appreciate the run—it’s not always in the destination.
In my teens and early twenties, I could squeeze out a mile or two and I really thought I was something. Now in my mid-thirties, I am regularly doing 5-mile runs, and my long runs have gotten as high as 10 miles. It has truly revolutionized my life.
However, as most runners know, pushing through some pain can result in injury which can keep you from running at all for a while. That’s no fun. Running for me is not only about piling on the miles or picking up the pace. Mindfulness, and the ability to listen to my body, is just as important. I have been amazed by what my body can do, and I respect it by acknowledging its limits. I do push beyond those limits, but mindfully, not just picking a random mileage goal and ignoring the body’s signals.
I’ve also learned about life in general, that being open to changing my mind, including quitting some things I’ve started, has been an immensely freeing position to take. Again, I would say it’s about mindfulness – choosing when to push and ignore the screaming resistance and when to change course. More here.
Thanks for your always-inspiring, provocative writing!
Love it…..this made me go through this day and may be many more days to come.
Congrats on the 20-miler! Gotta love that feeling when you finally sit down.
What this post is about to me is “quitting in the moment.” This is not okay. You knew it was going to be tough and decided to do it anyway. You owe it to yourself to see it through.
Contrast that to a different type of quitting, which I’ll call “strategic quitting.” For me this is not only okay, but a necessity. To quit before you even start because you determine it’s not worth your time or energy. Or to quit after you tough it out because you realize you’re not where you want to be.
Good luck in Chicago!
Good for you – except for the part where you were so exhausted and dehydrated you couldn’t hold a glass. Do we need to get you a plastic sippy cup?
When I started running half marathons, my goal for every race was to not stop and not die. It wasn’t always comfortable or pretty but I’ve finished 3 half marathons and going for number 4 this January in Phoenix. Care to join me?
Congratulations on your accomplishment. I am sure that Chicago will be fine!
My dog taught me how to run. We would walk for a while,mthen just romp ahead for a minute, then walk, then run. I later found out that was the recommended way. Just shortening the time spent walking. I only do 5k. Not a marathoner.
Later when my dog tore his ACL in a freak tennis ball accident, I had to help him to walk and to gently run again.
I think that somewhere in your running spirit, it is good to have some sense of pleasure or mission in the action, or process, or goal that you can lean on when you have doubts. Run for joy, like a dog, with your tongue hanging out!
I also ran for charity, which made the running and training about something else – that kept me moving.
It helps to make the goal itself just a little bigger than the inevitable obstacles.
Good luck with your traing!
Good to mention scaling back for injury too though. Since injuring my ankle in June (and re-injuring it several times just walking) I’ve scaled back the half-marathon plan; but have picked up the slack in the semi-neglected reading challenge in exchange.
I consider this a shift in the time tabling and not a quit. There’s a big difference between running through temporary pain and discomfort and running to re-injury or permanent injury.
My father ran half-marathons for years with bad knees – but he took care of them and took pauses in training when necessary. Good luck at the Chicago marathon!
Thanks Cris, your sharing is full of the light of inspiration.
The buddha said all life is suffering, not as a negative guy who was upset with life but in the realization that taking on things that push us, also offer opportunities to awaken greatness inside.
The challenges of life rock you out of the ordinary towards the extraordinary.
In training for a marathon, it is good to have a base of at least 9 mile average per run over the next two months before Chicago. You can run 3 times your average run. I have felt the pain of many years of long runs with over 35 years running. Pushing to the end builds strength in the body, mind and heart. Marathons take courage.
I like the message of this post a lot, but Chris! Please bring some form of hydration with you on a 20-mile run! 🙂
I’m working on something that feels like an ultra right now. Every single day I encounter resistance because I’ve never done anything this epic and it’s for a bigger cause than me. But I keep going. As much as I want to take that cab home and settle for what I’m doing now, I keep going.
Thanks for this. It came at a good time for me.
Great job Chris! I will keep your blog in mind next week as I try my 1st 20 miler for the Chicago marathon training as well!!
Sounds familiar. I had a six-miler this morning that was crummy from the start. The heat was oppressive, there was no air movement at all. I couldn’t settle into a good pace. Nothing hurt – it just felt like no fun at all. Thank goodness for my running partner. Without her, I would have walked or not laced up at all.
What’s the saying? The bad runs make you appreciate the good ones even more.
Congrats on the 20!
Those long training runs are are never much fun. I ran the Chicago marathon is 2001. It is still my favorite race. Write your name on the front of your shirt where the spectators can see it. The crowd will cheer you on in those moments when you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself in to. Its a great race. You’ll have a blast!
If you are ever in the LA area on a Saturday, come join my running group the Pasadena Pacers. We run from the Pasadena Rosebowl at 7am.
We have all levels, and are a fun group to run with. It helps me stay motivated. I do my longer runs with the group (I’ve capped it at 10 miles, which works for me), and then my weekday runs solo. I love how running alone just gets me out of my head, and leaves me clear for my day ahead. Running in the heat has been a challenge, but coming back to the group every Saturday gives me the push I need.
Give me a call if you are ever in LA – I will introduce you to the group, and prepare you a good carbo load meal the night before!
Thanks for this today Chris. I needed it after taking my daughter to study abroad in Mexico this year and returning home without her. Her year abroad was totally unplanned, but the opportunity came about and it was too serendipitous not to say yes – it was so aligned it happened in less than a week. As much as I’d like to curl up in a ball and cry from the abrupt separation, I know I have to use this time without her to stretch, grow and accomplish some marathon-like goals myself.
The Chicago marathon is fantastic – I’ve never run it (I am NO marathoner!) but used to live there and know several who have. You’ll have a great experience I’m sure.
Your post today reminds me of what I did exactly a year ago – hiking Camelback mountain in Phoenix in August. Stupid? kind of, but I just had to summit the trail I hadn’t done before and didn’t know when I’d get the chance again. Despite bringing what I thought was enough water I very nearly passed out from dehydration and disorientation on the way down. The full story is on my blog and like you said – it mattered, and because of who I met at the top I’m so happy I did it and would do it again.
Thanks for sharing your story.
When I first started reading this I thought, “C’mon, your body’s in pain, surely it’s trying to tell you something? What silliness…” etc etc. But I’m glad I finished reading. Because I always quit. Sometimes before I even begin. Reading this reminds me it’s ok to feel pain (fear, embarrassment, trepidation, etc.). Just as much as it’s ok to want the results. Thanks Chris x
Great advice! It always feels good when you stick with something because each success, no matter how large or small, helps to keep you moving towards your goal.
I have an old postcard on my desk that was sent to my Grandmother and was given to me by my Mother. It reads –
” Success can only be reached by climbing a very steep hill. Climb on little by little but never turn back or stand still.”
Having this in front of me every day helps to keep me motivated!
Thanks for sharing your story!
Great analogy. Life is a marathon, not a race. Those who reach their dreams are usually the ones who stay in the game the longest. Who persist, move through their fears and don’t give up. If in your heart you know it’s what you’re meant to be doing—no matter how eccentric it may seem to others—keep going.
Talk about opportune! A blip with my latest book City of Secrets and I felt like giving up. Life is too short, there are better things to do with my time etc. etc. Then I read your post and know what I have to do. So it’s pick yourself up, dust yourself down and keep going time.
Love this! I’m running my first half marathon in November in San Francisco (anyone else running it as well?). Training so far is good, but I KNOW I will have moments where I want to quit as well. Thanks for the inspiration!
Congratulations on the 20 miler. If you can do that on your own, you will certainly finish a marathon with the camaraderie of other runners and the support of the crowd.
I was a hopeless athlete at school. In my late 30s worried about weight and health, I started running, got the bug. Progressed through 10, 15K 1/2 and standard 42.2 k marathons and then went for the big one, 87.5k Comrades ultra. Did it 4 times and many other ultras.
Never quit in a single race, because I was determined never to give up.
Many times on early morning training runs, it would have been easy to turn back, but by persevering for the first few ks it generally got easier and more enjoyable.
Although I stopped distance running 20 years ago because of injury, lifestyle changes and involvement in other sports, that discipline and tenacity from running has got me through some very tough experiences.
I also credit my years of running for helping me survive a heart attack and now at age 62 still run 3km a day.
So inspiring!! I am not one to give up, even when I probably should, so this spoke volumes to me. I am encouraged to keep writing.
Good luck on your marathon!! Persevere, friend.
I have recently taken up running. I can manage 3 miles before I collapse, which is not much but hey, you gotta start somewhere!! This story inspired me to carry on through the pain so thank you!
Not remembering you dropped a glass on the floor and it shattered is a sign you were in big trouble. Thankfully you survived to tell the story. You usually should listen to your body. Finishing the 20 miles and dying would mean you died happy but I’m sure there’d be some sad people left behind.
“Do or do not – there is no try”
Quitting is definitely not okay. I recently did an intense, 10.6 mile hike that had a 2000 foot+ elevation gain. I was in no way prepared for any of it, but my friends pushed me up the mountain and they pushed me down the mountain. I am better for having completed the hike and thankful to my friends for forcing me to persevere. Good luck at the marathon!
Run Keeper is amazing. I just used it last night though I couldn’t run very much it was pretty awful, but I did manage to walk the entire course which was good then I went home and nursed my upset stomach…gotta watch what you eat before you work out that’s for sure.
I’ve been questioning the “it’s not okay to quit” mindset since my extremely challenging 8+ mile Super Spartan obstacle mud run on Saturday. I didn’t quit, even with severe pain from plantar fasciitis that caused me to walk not run more than half of the course. I also got the shivers and wasn’t hungry due to dehydration. I keep wondering, why is it not okay to quit? I don’t have an answer yet, but I do know that quitting apparently isn’t in my DNA.
First, as said above, the “never give up” message came at a good time. I’m struggling a little with the direction of things, but the options – giving up? or getting a 9-5? just aren’t even options. Good to have someone like you in our corner!
Second, yep, the feeling of triumph, and even a little smugness when finishing long runs is amazing. You did something a relatively small % of the population have managed. I suffered most of the Chicago marathon, but the feelings during the last 2 miles and crossing that finish more than made up for it.
That said, running a marathon is now off my bucket list. I now participate in half, recover fast and enjoy them much more.
Keep up the awesome work good sir!
It’s the honesty to yourself, sometimes you want to go further for someone else – but is it worth for your own sake? Is it what you are doing for you or others? If you have already achieved, clap yourself on the shoulders and stop – it always depends on why and where you want to go.
We have sometimes a conditioned mind of what hurts, what we can do etc…sometimes its good to re-educate it, reprogram the software and set out new challenges – they make use grow, just be honest to yourself and you will now when to stop. x
What agreat story! I used to live right next to Laurelurst Park, and actually met my husband while working at the laughing planet right there. Such a pretty area-you make me miss PDX!
And yes, learning not to quit is an important skill to master. It may sound easier in the end, but the more important the thing you’re trying to do is, the more important it is not to quit.
Congrats on your run, by the way!
Inspiring indeed. As I start, very slowly, to regain the 7lbs I lost last month while being sick, my 88lbs (regular weight) body is aching at each extra minutes I add to my exercise routine. I doubt that I’ll ever consider runing but am in awe of people who do go for it.
The incident of being incoherent and ordering a lot of food sounded familiar. Do be more careful and enjoy the marathon.
After being a walker for years (I do a 14 minute mile), I just started running and have been following the training guide through PETA’s “Peta Pack” program. Yesterday’s training called for walking 1 minute, then running 4 minutes for 20 minutes total. This was HUGE for me. I didn’t think I could do it, but I DID!! I didn’t give up even though I really wanted to. 🙂
I don’t think I’ll ever run 20 miles…but I do know I can do whatever I put my mind to!!
This article on the underlying theme reminds me of what the eminent psychologist Albert Ellis used to say. He said that most people live lives of discontentment and anxiety because they live in a world of “musts”. I must do this. I must do that. I am a winner. (what does that mean anyway – everyone is a winner.) You are a human being that is “be” not a human doing. Just love your life for what it is. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be engaged and do things that you enjoy and make a difference. But don’t get caught up in I must run to be a winner. Why???? Challenge the thought that you should run. You don’t have to run. You don’t have to do anything.
Dr. Ellis said that all of these people caught up in must were neurotic and he called them “mustabators” as they were always musting themselves to the point of distraction. So the next time you think you should abuse your body, by torturing it with a run then ask yourself – Why must I? Chris, you have traveled the world certainly you have discovered that here in the United States we are not as peaceful and contented as most of the rest of the world. They don’t going around musting everything in many cultures. We could learn from them
I love your writing – big fan. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Don’t want to be a downer, but maybe that time you should have quit! You could have died, if not from dehydration, then from bleeding to death out the bottoms of your feet in the broken glass.
In all seriousness, go get yourself a fuel belt and keep yourself alive so we can keep reading!
I am not a runner; I choose powerwalking because of overpronating feet and weak ankles. Last year, my friend and I trained for the Columbia River 10K Walk-Run; our first “competition”. The walkers were’nt competing with anyone except themselves. Anyway, there were times when I wanted to give up on the training. The voices saying, “Come on, this isn’t fun anymore!” or “This is far enough, turn around and let’s go home.” I dissolved the messages the voices were urging on me and continued with my training. And we did the whole 10K in 1:38; what a sense of accomplishment! We are currently training for our second one.
Your message about perseverence is spot on: in the past I was a quitter; now at 55 I’m looking forward to what I can accomplish for myself and my family and, who knows, for the world. A timely and uplifting post about how much we can do if we persevere.
It is definitely a weird experience to run when your body is in mutiny. I became an unexpected runner, really almost by accident. I went out one day with no expectations, no goals and a firm belief that I was going to turn around whenever I felt like it. It also helped that I have a handicapped sense of space. I was afraid to run a 5K because I wasn’t sure if I had ever gone that far. My husband made me measure after the race. I had been running 9 miles everyday. I will say it was when I started to measure the distance that things started to get dicey. Knowing you’re going to run 20 miles makes mile one alot more daunting than if you’re just saying you’re going to run till you feel like turning around. The furthest I have ever gone was 18 miles. If I got it just right, it felt no different than sitting on the couch watching scenery go by but on the days like the one you are describing, that banana in your runners pouch isn’t going to get you through it. It will have to be your own grit. You did it! I wonder how many hours it took you to get warm again. Before I knew about recovery drinks I would spend hours under heavy blankets in the middle of summer. So weird!
i really enjoyed this inspiring post! if i had a dollar for every time i wanted to give up on my art business i’d be pretty rich by now! but luckily i must have been born with lots of determination because all the little triumphs, sales, and wonderful clients keep me excited and going!
Thanks Chris, that was the kick in the pants I needed today to keep on looking for work. I’m in Chicago too so I’ll come and cheer you on in October.
Funny timing, just got back from a run..I got half marathon coming up in October and I’ve been hampered with injuries. Every time I go out though I make sure I finish the run.
Come October I’ll walk the whole thing if I have to but I will finish it.
I have persevered for over 25 years as a human spell-checker, so imagine my horror when I saw “Perseverence” in my email! It’s “Perseverance”
Sorry to be a pain – I do think you have some of the best insights available, so thanks for your newsletter!
I agree completely and I want to say kudos with your hardwork! However, I’d like to add a caveat to your inspirational post – I had an eating disorder for two years while I was in college and it was because I didn’t know when to stop. I’d push myself and push myself and run past my limit (which wasn’t actually a lot, but since I didn’t really eat much either…) Eventually I got really sick and it has taken my body so much time to recover from the battering I gave it. So I’d encourage everyone to also take your other sentence very much to heart: “Part of overcoming is to understand when to quit and when to keep going.” Quitting once does not make you a quitter. 🙂
Awesome! I’m always training for something – Crossfit is next on my list 🙂 You just gotta get over that “tipping point” of “This sucks, I hate this” to “I CAN DO THIS!”. Remember your mind will quit 1000 times before your body every does!
Perserverance and persistence…highly prized virtues. Pain, regrets, losses may come with the effort but there is ultimate joy in achievement of the goal, whether it is a race , education, job, travel, etc. Perhaps you win a medal or trophy, money, diploma/degree, or perhaps you have the satisfaction of completing your desired dream with no award except the knowledge you finished what you started. Way to go Chris…best of wishes for the future.
As a runner myself I loved this post. It also reminded me of a running quote that seems to fit perfectly with your post.
“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.”~William James
I respectfully disagree… a 100% “it’s not OK to quit” is telling people to disregard their common sense. I acknowledge that in order to achieve a feat like a marathon, you need to know what it feels like to push onward through the pain…I, too, have had this experience (and used to thrive on the rush of pulling off the impossible, which is largely why I disagree). But each of us needs to know for ourselves the kind of pain that is bad so that you’re not pushing through something you shouldn’t. This happens to experienced athletes as well as novices. Bottom line, we each need to know how to listen to our intuition and trust whether the voice you talk about, Chris, is actually giving you the easy out, or whether it’s giving you good information. The accomplishment doesn’t matter if you’re lying on the bathroom floor severely dehydrated in shards of glass. That isn’t a badge of courage. Sure, you managed, but at what cost? I would argue that learning to listen to and trust yourself is a larger part of the process of “winning” or “losing” in any aspect of your life than pushing through the pain no matter what. Discernment is a very valuable tool.
Intelligent perserving would have been a bit more inspiring- sorry. Perserving to death would not be a good story.
Hope the mrathon ends better- keep hydrated enough to enjoy the run and the beer at the end- the Chicago Marathon is awesome!
Oh yeah .. keep on doing it. I’d like to add a little nuance to it though. I guess it’s the part about being a beginner at it or an experienced runner. Last year I ran my first marathon so I finally put up some little protection to be able to finish but without overdoing it. I gave myself three goals: 1. enjoy being there and running your first marathon, 2. Finish and 3. arrive before they taking the time 🙂
Having the goals in that order helped me not to overdo it and achieve all three goals. Otherwise I guess that I would have gone for some unrealistic goals for that marathon.
So yes keep on going remembering that it’s ok to adapt your goal to a goal which is achievable on that day.
Congratulations on the 20 miler! Interestingly, I could feel your pain on Saturday as I competed in an Olympic Triathlon…my first tri of any distance (although I was lucky enough to get a massage at the finish line!). I ran my first marathon last summer following the training plan from “The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer.” Before I started training, I had never run more than 5 miles. While its true that you must slowly build up your mileage so that your body can handle the stress and constant pounding, it was amazing to me how essential it was that I learned to train my mind to push myself farther than my body wanted to go.
Following the plan in that book, I only had to run up to 20 miles during my training, essentially relying on willpower alone to get through the final 6.2. If you were able to gut it out for 20 miles, you’ll be better prepared come race day than you think when you have adrenaline pumping through your body. In the meantime, I would highly recommend that book to develop the mental stamina for a marathon. One of my favorites was to visualize what it would feel like crossing the finish line every time I felt like giving up. Best of luck!
Heck YEAH, Chris! Your story just lit me up like a shiny, blingy disco ball. Sweet post. Even sweeter experience. Thanks for sharing. I will aim to kick ass the rest of the day!
Ah, yes, that voice in your head…I learned that sometimes we go looking for that voice, we ask for advice just to hear what we want to hear, whether it is “it’s ok to quit”or pity, “poor you, it’s not your fault”. In the end, You know who you are, deep down, it you go digging within, you have the answer. We try to escape it by having an external force telling us what we want to hear.
I was one of those people (well, I still do struggle with this, but now I am aware:)). I almost gave up going to Spanish school because I thought it was too hard for me and that Buenos Aires was probably not the best place to learn because of their heavy dialect…Everyone around me told me so. Deep down, I knew it was an excuse, by sticking with it, I was fluent within 3 months. Ok, I thought it would have taken 2 weeks since I already spoke Italian, Guess I needed that kick in the but of reality check!!
Funny how a post like this comes around this time. I’m a newb runner trying to get in shape for the military. I’ve dubbed September “Grind Session”, because I’m dedicated its entirety to running 1.5 miles in a time less than 13.00. I get that opt-out voice too, but I need to kick myself in the arse and push. I need to get back out into the world, and the military is a stepping stone that’ll allow me to do it.
“It’s do-or-die month”, I said to myself. Starting tomorrow, if this tropical storm business clears-up, I’ll be pounding the asphalt.
Good luck to you, Chris. Give them miles hell, and I’ll do the same. I’m not giving up!
I’m with Christy, who commented above…
“Bottom line, we each need to know how to listen to our intuition and trust whether the voice you talk about, Chris, is actually giving you the easy out, or whether it’s giving you good information.”
It’s about discernment. You do touch on this… knowing when to keep going, and knowing when to let go. That’s the important aspect though, not the “winning” or the “losing”, but being able to hear one’s own truth inside and honouring that. It’s bloody hard. And the mind can be loud, often imitating one’s own truth. But it’s well worth the listening!
Exactly what I needed today!! I fly into France Sept 4 with a one-way ticket and 740 km of the Camino de Santiago to hike. I’ve never undertaken anything that felt so right – until the last few days, when I’ve been questioning the wisdom of my decision. But I know this hike – which is completely unlike anything I’ve ever done before – will be something that I look back on later in life as a turning point. Thanks for the reminder!
I trained for Chicago by myself, no problems. What I wasn’t prepared for was the uplifting encouragement of the masses along the way on race day…talk about motivating!
Very timely article. I went for a run earlier today (though not nearly as long as yours) and come the second lap, I just wanted to stop. I kept going, but it was difficult mentally. I felt great afterward though.
I can totally relate to your story. When I was still running and getting ready for the local 10K, this is before I blew out my arches in both feet and my bad knee when totally south. I thought I had prepared enough for the 10l race, guess again!! I came in dead last, it rained, snowed and sleeted all in the same day!! I came in dead last,with snow and ice frozen on my head and with the ambulance and the paramedis keeping up with me!! I could hear them talking ohoh she’s slowing down again, but I finished the 10K!!My co-worker, who finished way ahead of me, came running back looking for me!! His first words were,I hoped your weren’t down or something and I would have to carry you back with me!!! I hurt those last few miles and the next week, but I sure was HAPPY I DIDN”T QUIT~~~
Thanks for this. Today was killer for me, not for running but for the enormous project I’m working on with the deadline tomorrow. I’m not completely ready with a couple of things, but I figured a way to just do it regardless–no, it’s not OK to quit. Extending the deadline would have been quitting in a way, sort of, and nope. No way. Exhaustion? Oh well! I’ve got a happy smile on my face because I pretty much did it, and it’s good enough! For now 🙂
I admit I got worried there with what you said about dehydration and the broken glass, but I felt better when I read that you know the difference between when to call it quits due to pain and when it’s a different sort of pain. I used to do endurance skating and some other stuff, so I know what you mean. Still, take good care! A bigger water bottle? A backpack water thingy with a straw? We need you around 🙂
Love the honesty and truth in this, thank you.
Nice! When you push yourself past the limit, you often discover a “new” limit. In other words, the old limit was artificial.
Good morning Chris. Thanks so much for this inspirational post. It was exactly what I needed, precisely when I needed it.
I guess I’m one of those people who says, “be careful.” Maybe you have different standards because you’ve seen so many different lifestyles, that becoming mildly delirious from dehydration isn’t a big deal. I am an advocate of, if it hurts, stop. Not the normal kind of discomfort that comes from exertion, of course. But so many runners push and push and end up with all sorts of foot and knee problems 20 years down the line. I know a triathlete who’s no more than 50 and just had a hip replacement. Of course, it’s easy for me to speak, I can’t run because my ankle is half metal and there’s no shock absorption. But overall, I guess I’m more cautious, I’m more okay with quitting. I think that’s something to be worked on. Just please be careful.
Even, I will persevere in learning how to make a guitar “talk” anyway I wish. Thank you very much.
It’s not often that I disagree with you, Chris. A 44-year-old woman died at my gym two weeks ago because she collapsed during a spin class. She pushed too hard and is now gone. Everything can change in an instant. That’s not to say we should avoid challenges, but we do have to be smart. Exercise and health are not about punishment. A body should be treated with respect — so you have a chance at a long journey ahead together.
Artwork is the same. Each painting goes through an ugly, awkward stage and you want to quit; start fresh on something that feels perfect from the beginning. Just keep going. Take it to the end.
Not all will be worthy of frames, but there will be growth in just finishing.
Congratulations on 20 miles!
Must agree with Christy, Kara-Leah, Maria & R. Sometimes your body’s messages are more important than the mind message we’d like to adopt more regularly.
Woohoo! Great post! This will motivate me as I train for the NYC marathon.
On May 20, 2004, I almost lost my leg and my life in an accident.
Doctors weren’t even sure if I would ever walk again and they all said running was definitely a thing of my past.
But on May 20. 2012 I did a full marathon. Woohoo!
I did those 26.2 miles for me. To reclaim a day I disliked. To see what I could do. To do what I can.
Now that I’ve done a marathon for me, it’s time to do one for others. So I’m doing the NYC marathon for a non-profit which provides resources and motivation to help others who face life with obstacles.
Training for and doing 26.2 miles will be tough… so thinking of your 20-mile run will help me, thanks!
Great article Chris as always.
I’m a keen marathoner myself (I even took on the Great Wall Marathon, Beijing last year). You are right, persistence is the key, and never giving up. I find the psychology is the most important thing to assist that:
When I am fatigued, and the voice you talk of kicks in… I overwrite it by saying “This is easy, I can do it”. Its amazing how replacing the language lifts you massively. Other friends have taken this approach into cycling, weights and the pool and found it really works. Upbeat music will have the same impact for you.
“I’m not really prepared to run Chicago in October, but I’ll go for it anyway. ” perhaps replace those words with the following and see how you feel differently:
“I ran 20 miles in training, and I have 4 more weeks to go. I am going to blast Chicago Marathon”
One other thing that might help:
Visualising yourself finishing the course strong (hearing the cheering crowd) is important too… replay that image of yourself crossing the line strong when you are running and training.
Really looking forward to seeing your update – good luck (not that you need it!)
As a fellow runner in particular, I dig this post. I think experiencing that mode of “should I just quit now?” is actually a good thing – it forces you to step back an evaluate everything, and reassess if you’re on the right path. I go through that in my business all the time, and while it feels like I’m running off course initially, I feel much more focused and balanced after I work through the “I want to quit!” anxiety and get rid of crap that’s no longer working for me, or where I’m pushing myself over the limit. Never made the comparison with running, but it’s definitely a relevant one! Cheers, and congrats!
Chris and all athletes! Do not “train” yourself to the point of damage!I will tell you from my experience that the best way to train is to recognize sharp pain and injury pain and have the wisdom to not damage your body. I earn my living with my dear body, the best gift I ever got. I have a window cleaning business which has enabled me to be a non conformist for 17 years now. I have been into triathlons for 8 years now and have learned the hard way, injury will set you further from your goal. A friend of mine got dehydrated on a bike ride, crashed, and had to finish his Ironman tri in a cast! Yes, he finished and we all admire him for that. Are you listening? You are going to go out and learn the hard way, aren’t you!? I can tell from the look in you eye you are! Oh, take a cell phone with you then…..
Great post, Chris-just what I needed this week. Chicago was my 1st marathon and it was a blast, so I hope you make it there. All the training is worth it! Stride on!!
When I compete in Ironman races (going for #5 on 9/9) I write the words “Relentless Forward Progress” on my left arm. When the going gets tough (and it will, sooner or later on race day) I’m carrying a visual reminder of how to finish.
Hey Chris, I finally read this and realized as I probably already should have that you live in Portland, you lucky guy. We were on our way to Portland when we stopped off in Albuquerque to visit friends and you may have heard that New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment…locals call it the Land of Entrapment, so here we sit. I don’t even like to run, but I ran a marathon (yes, ran it) 3 years ago at age 57. It sucked!! But you are so right about how important it is to keep at it. I get very discouraged in my endeavors, one particularly related to helping Albuquerque to take on some of the excellent urban qualities of Portland. It is called Urban at ABQ.
Please come do a talk here sometime. You may never leave, though.
I get where Chris was going with this Perserverance entry…that exploring suffering, limits…being tenacious…has rewards. And one hates to nitpick on what happened on that run largely being of Chris’ doing, because that misses the main message and risks turning this into a running forum. HAVING SAID THAT, Chris has run distances like this before, and he had money stashed into his shoe, and still managed to get seriously dehydrated on a run…so the elephant in the room is that this obstacle to overcome was entirely avoidable and self-made. You HAVE to stay hydrated on 3+ hour runs, and there are myriad places to pick up water and sport drinks or even espresso (drink two glasses of water, a double espresso and suck on a jolly rancher candy at mile 16 of a 20 mile run, and you’ll be amazed at how fast those last 4 miles disappear!!). I mention espresso, because hey, this is Portland! So bottom line, let’s all perservere…let’s break down obstacles…let’s not be defined by conventional limits…but also let’s not create artificial hurdles that needn’t be there in our quests.
Persistence, grunt and “just do it”; are some of the most valuable traits for success. This reality is so not limited to physical feats! Following our dreams and plans thru with action, is immensely challenging. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t call them dreams, and everybody would do it!
While I don’t have any aspirations of running a marathon, I have been getting back into running. At first it sucks, but eventually you start to like it. I’ve been working on my pace more than anything, and just after a week of running I can definitely feel my pace getting better. I usually run at 180BPM and it was fairly easy today. Feels pretty good after you’re done knowing that you didn’t stop, even if you don’t want to do it initially.
Thanks Krissy. I love you lots.
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