By Vivian Adaobi Nweze
Four years ago I passed out water to girls running on my high school’s cross-country team. I was a student athlete too, sprinting on the track team, cheering, and beasting as Captain of the Girl’s Weightlifting team. But, long distance running was always a “skinny girl” sport. Not for me. Each practice the cross-country coach would try to coax me to switch from manager to runner, but I just looked at her crazy and told her “I’m too thick for this.”
But this week I completed my first 5k run. I still can’t believe what I have accomplished by getting rid of the notion that I couldn’t do it. The mental limitations created out of insecurity slowly dissolved as I let go of “I can’t” and started to embrace “I can at least try.”
Accomplishments are not recognized because of the actual reward. It is the sweat, blood, and tears that we celebrate. The dedication to your dream brought to fruition.
Hard work is pertinent to achieving any dream you have, but I also have 5 tips that can accelerate your pace towards reaching your daunting goals:
- Use your inspiration to push you outside of your comfort (lazy) zone
I started running with a friend last year. Watching her sprint 8 laps without blinking made it hard to be content with 4, for too long. To keep up I had to push myself, going to the track on days we didn’t run together to build my stamina. Then I met a fellow curvy girl, who told me she ran 25 laps to prepare for a race. Even though she was more toned than me, I was still surprised. After that I set a goal to slowly build up to running 25 laps too.
- Set short-term goals that lead you towards achieving the long term ones
You have to pace yourself, mentally and physically. I couldn’t jump from running 4 laps (1 mile) on the track to 25 laps (6.25 miles). Each day I set specific goals for my run. One day I may jog 8 laps and walk 2. The next day I would try to jog all 10. Not meeting my daily goal would not be an issue, as long as I made progress. Stagnation just meant my goal needed more time.
- Dedicate yourself to your goal.
Make a schedule, get the necessary resources, and educate yourself. You have to make your goal real and tangible. As soon as I got my Nike running shoes, I knew I was committed. I’m not a sneakerhead and generally if there isn’t a heel on a shoe, I won’t wear it. But, by investing in a solid pair of running shoes made for long distance runners I knew I would force myself to go out and get my money’s worth. Making a “life schedule” for myself, that included blocks of time dedicated to running, became a constant reminder of my goal. Reading distance runner forums, researching articles, and talking to avid runners helped give me a clear vision of what was realistic for my capabilities.
- Don’t let setbacks, hold you back
I try to go running at least three times a week, but there are times when life takes over and I can’t be on the track. It would always bring me down when I would hit the track and my stamina or speed regressed, but I couldn’t give up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue on the path you have set for yourself.
- Remember where you came from, but focus on where you are going
How can achieving your goal change your life for the better? Any moment you want to give up, refer back to the change you want to see. Don’t think about what you cannot do, focus on what you have done, how far you have come, and what you will do. It’s not about wanting to do something or being able to do it. You have to go out there and make it happen. Getting over this psychological hurdle is the biggest step towards achieving your daunting dreams.
So, what goals are you striving towards? Feel free to share it with us firstname.lastname@example.org.