Everything is relative. Remember when you bought your first car and every car payment seemed like a mortgage payment. Then you started paying rent and that car payment didn't seem so bad. Then you started paying on your first mortgage and that old rent payment seemed small in comparison. It's all relative.
Today I ran 17 miles. As I finished the 12th mile, I thought to myself: "just 5 more miles to go." I remember when 5 miles was a long run and a full workout. Two miles later it occurred to me that I'd be done in roughly 25 minutes. Again, there were days that a three mile run would be all I would do and consider that a full day's workout after just 25 minutes. At the time, I couldn't fathom a 17 mile trek.
Here I am half way into my training and 17 miles seems doable. Almost easy. 20 miles seems like a stretch. Yet, in just a few short weeks, I'll be knocking down a 20 mile run as easy as I completed 17 miles today.
Taking on this sort of challenge is mental to me. Sometime ago, I was overwhelmed by what seemed like a daunting task ahead of me. A colleague suggested that I break it down into small chewable and digestible bites. As he said, "Don't eat an elephant all at once. Eat it in small bites." He was right. As I started out this morning, I mentally broke my run down into two 6 mile segments and a five mile segment. I know I can run 6 miles with no problem. Knock one 6 mile segment down and do it again, I told myself. Then, I would only have a short 5 mile segment left to conquer. Doing this seemed easier to me than running 17 miles in my mind.
There's something about running 8.5 miles and then turning around and doing it all over again that seems unpalatable to me. I mean, I feel like I've already accomplished something and then realize I'm only half way through and have to do it all over again.
Running long distances is like anything else in life that seems daunting. If we look at it in aggregate terms it seems insurmountable. If we break it down into smaller pieces, it's achievable. All athletes do this. Even golfers breakdown every element of their golf swing into small segments...the right stance, a slow backswing, eye on the ball, follow through, etc.
The next time you set a goal or tackle a problem look at it in smaller increments. Don't set out to lose 20 pounds. Break it down into 5 pound bites...so to speak.
This weekend, I'll be running 18 miles...6 miles at a time.