I’m on vacation, and blissfully mostly offline (hence no Life-Cise Daily Tips coming in email inboxes). I’m reading and writing, swimming, running, and biking every day, plus making pies and watching sunsets. Every day is a good day.
But last Sunday stood out. I wandered down to the beach with my coffee in hand to watch a 2-mile swim race. Swimmers swam out into the bay, around a buoy, and back. They had perfect weather for it. I didn’t see the leaders swim – they had already finished – but that’s just as well. I always love seeing the “average” athletes (although anyone who swims a 2-mile race is pretty far above average, IMHO), those swimming or running in the mid to back of the pack. Maybe that’s just because that’s where I run.
But what struck me as I watched was how each one – young, old, fat, skinny – stood up when they reached the beach and smiled and raised their hands or clenched a fist in triumph. They weren’t winning, the winners were long gone. But they finished. They did what they set out to do, what they had trained for, what they had spent countless hours working toward.
Because any endurance event like that, whether running/swimming/biking/skiing/anything, takes work. Someone can go out and run a mile or 5K without much preparation. But endurance races take planning, preparation, hours and hours of working at it. No one is going to swim 2 miles or run 50 by working out for a week or so. They all know it’s a longterm goal. That progress is made in weeks, months, and years. That they’re not going to “get it right” in a day. That it’s a constant effort – much in the same way anyone going through rehab after injury or illness knows that it’s an ongoing effort.
So, no matter how long it takes, finishing a long race feels like success. Because it is. So the person crossing the line last is just as happy as the first. Because all the hours paid off. So three cheers to all who finished, and to all who are trying.
And then I went back to make breakfast. A little later in the morning, after all the racers had cleared off, a bald eagle landed at the beach. My day also included my own swim, a nice conversation with two women at the beach about the books of Karl Ove Knausgaard (an author whose writing I love), and one of the best trail runs I’ve had all summer….All in all, a good day – for me and everyone who got out and got some exercise. Because fitness and health are not what happens for a day.
Did I mention there was a bald eagle?
Get out and enjoy the world. Make you own good day.
I don’t want to give the impression that I only find extreme accomplishments praise-worthy. Quite the contrary. What I love about the back-of-the-pack swimmers and runners is their very ordinariness. They’re regular folks who worked toward a goal, who worked through a process. But anyone who sticks to the process for any goal is equally praise-worthy. I have run ultramarathons. I have also struggled to get out of a chair and walk across the room on my own. I know what it’s like to walk to the end of my driveway and cry, both because it was so bloody difficult, and because I was so proud of my accomplishment. I know what it’s like to finally raise my arm above my head and pump my fist and say, “Yes!!”
So, just to be clear, whatever you’re struggling to do, stick with it, be diligent, and be proud of the work you’re doing!