Everything Is a Stepping Stone
This is what I wrote in a blog post in December of 2019 where I explained how small goals lead to big results:
This post is all about making small manageable goals. Goals that you will be able to maintain and turn into habits. Goals that, although seem very small, will end up making a huge different over time.
Another one of my small manageable goals? Run… not only for my physical health, but mostly for my mental health. I don’t want to run a marathon. I don’t even want to run a 5k, although I know I could. Small. Manageable. Goals. And for me, with all that is on my plate, it’s simply to run for only 10 minutes and to not miss two days in a row. I’ve broken that goal more times than I can count… but… guess what? I’ve been running for 15 months straight now, which is much longer than I ever have before.
I searched this post just now because I knew I wanted to reference it, and my jaw dropped as I read it! WHAT!? I didn’t even want to run a 5k then? Wow, talk about being able to see growth and mega proof that I was bang on when I said that small goals do lead to big results!
As I sit here today, on October 15th, 2020, only ten months after publishing that blog post, I can proudly say that just last weekend, I completed a half marathon! 5k makes me laugh, such a small goal that wasn’t even a goal 10 months ago… stepping stone!!! For those of you who don’t know, a half marathon is 21.1km or 13.1 miles… a lot more than 5k! Having said that though, had you told me 10 months ago that I’d be running a half marathon, I would’ve laughed in your face! It wasn’t even on my radar, nor was a 5k for that matter!
Let me give you a quick overview of my running journey.
In September 2018, I began running because I knew I needed to take better care of myself after having had a really hard year and falling a part a little (okay, maybe a lot). I began really small and decided that I would run for 10 minutes, and that I wouldn’t miss two days in a row. That made things manageable for me because I really only had to think one day in advance. Can I run tomorrow? No? I better run today, then!
I literally ran like this for a year and a half. I can’t say that I never broke my “don’t miss two days in a row” rule, but I kept up with it enough to be able to say that I was running consistently.
Then, March 2020 happened. Covid-19 changed our world as we knew it… but there definitely have been blessings amidst the chaos. For me, it’s given me more time than I’ve ever had before to run. By May 2020, I had run a handful of 5ks and had my eye on doing ONE 10k. After seeing Dave Burgess crush Sunday 10ks, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could tackle one, and survive… then I’d be happy, I thought (I’m kind of competitive like that for people who don’t know me)! Oh, I was so naïve and had SO much to learn about running.
On May 22nd, 2020, I headed out with my neighbour, Eric, who is an incredible runner and who’s become my unofficial coach. We were aiming to run 7.8km, and although I finished that run, it certainly wasn’t pretty. I rolled my ankle before hitting the 2k mark, but since it seemed okay after a few minutes of pushing through the pain, I finished my run, but with legs that almost gave out at the end. Looking back now, I know that I pushed way too hard and ran that distance at a pace that was out of my reach then. I kept trying to run over the next couple of weeks, but I was in so much pain. After X-rays and visits to the physiotherapist’s, I had a plan but learned the hard way that I needed rest. I didn’t run again until the very end of June.
I was also forced to learn the the difference between an easy and a hard run. I learned that running at difference paces and distances is good. Because I had been running for only 10 minutes up until this point, it made sense that I pushed hard for those 10 minutes, but I couldn’t keep that up for longer runs! I discovered that running slowly was FUN!
On July 13th, 2020, this was my post on Strava: “Couldn’t ask for better running weather! I set out to do 7k this morning , I’ve been slowly adding 1km since my ankle injury, and my longest before today (post injury) was 6k. Everything felt right this morning and I felt great, so I kept running! My first 10k ever.”
Once I had crushed that goal, and found out that it wasn’t as out of my reach as I’d imagined, I began thinking about a half marathon, fully knowing that I was capable of doing it if I really wanted to. Another new goal. Eric helped me to make a training plan and I was on my way. I loved my “Track Tuesday” training sessions, as well as my tempo and long runs! I also loved how I crushed PR (personal record) after PR and managed to do a 5k in 23:05 and a 10k in 52:20. I was beginning to really feel like a runner!
As summer came to an end, I worried about being able to stick to my plan with starting up a new school year during a pandemic. To boot, my family got sick, one of my boys got a concussion, and September really was a hot mess. I didn’t run as much as I should have, but I just hoped that I did enough to stay on track.
By October, I felt ready for those 21.1 kilometers!
As race day arrived, the wind woke up me at 4am, gusting to 55km/h (or 35mph). I could hear it swirling around and through the country roads around farmers’ fields just behind our development, where I was running my half. I was starting to feel nervous, but I was still so excited!
I started my race at 7am sharp. As I turned my first corner and started running into the wind, I began giving myself a pep talk on letting go of expectations…
Annick, I know you told everyone that you wanted to finish under 2 hours and 15 minutes, and that deep down inside, you REALLY wanted to finish closer to the 2 hours and 5 minute mark, but you need to be okay with finishing in more time than that. It is SO WINDY and you need to be proud of the fact that you finish. You will finish. It will be okay. Celebrate finishing, not the time that it takes you. You’re a beast.
My first 14k felt good. Hard, but good. I was riding the high and the adrenaline was helping me stay positive despite the wind. On my last 7 kilometer loop, everything got astronomically harder. The wind was unbearable and my heart rate got so high that my watch literally stopped tracking it. I was incredibly fortunate to run with two guys (thanks Jamie and Bo) who simply ran to pace me, and they kept me positive and told me that if we held our pace for this last loop, I’d be able to reach my goal. My 17th kilometer was my slowest one of my whole race, where although I was running, I felt like the wind was pushing me backwards. Still, I found some courage deep down within me and finished my race with a 400 meter sprint right at the end.
As I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t breathe and tears filled my eyes. I walked towards my family and friends and it took everything in me not to let my emotions take over me.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
I finished a half marathon.
In crazy winds.
And still crushed my goal.
My time? 2:02:17.
I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom I wrote back in December…
Whatever you want to do, start small. Trust me, you don’t need to make these huge gigantic goals to move forward (but hey, if that works for you, awesome… it just doesn’t for me). Make a goal, find people who will inspire you to keep you going even on those hard days, make sure you have accountability partners (don’t be afraid to voice that goal!!), and don’t let yourself break the promises you made to yourself.
I can’t wait to see where your small steps take you! Get after it! You’ve got this!
Everything is a stepping stone. (Even rolling my ankle was.)
-The Girl Who Didn’t Even Want to Run a 5k 10 Months Ago but Now Ran a Half Marathon