When I rang in the new year in 2012, I set out to start running. My goal was to be able to run more than 3 miles. For some reason, at three miles I'd start to feel nauseous and my body would just started breaking down. So I'd stop.
On Jan 4th, 2012 I attached my Ipod Nano to my hip, started my "Couch to 5k" podcast and settled in for a 9 week program. I had my doubts about it from the beginning, but I can say that it actually worked. Once I was running just over three miles, I wondered if I could run four. So I ran four. Then a couple weeks would pass and I wondered if I could run five miles. So I ran five. Then one day I logged 8.5 miles and thought I could just keep going. My neighbor encouraged me to train for a half marathon since I was running long distances already. So I did. I had 12 weeks to train. And on January 6th, 2013 (almost exactly a year after I started the Couch to 5k program) I ran my first half marathon. 13.1 miles. There were parts that were easy and parts that were so hard I just wanted to quit... But I didn't.
My body is still feeling the strain as I type this. And my mind is seeing a correlation between the ups and downs of life. At about mile 8, it occurred to me how similar long distance running is to being in labor. During the first 7 miles I thought, "Wow, this is easy and kind of fun!" (early labor). During the last half my body was screaming, "Make it stop!" (active labor).
Running long distances is very much like navigating long term relationships, specifically the LTR of learning an musical instrument (you knew I had to bring it back to music, right?). When a student begins piano lessons, I love to see their excitement each week. It's easy and fun and feels like that first 7 miles. Then something happens... A thought occurs... "I think I'll skip practicing today because I'm so busy" or "I think I want to try trapeze classes". It doesn't matter what the thought is, it just matters that it occurs. It's the same as saying, "I need to NOT do this thing right now because it's causing me discomfort. And because of this discomfort, I believe I need to do something else." The unfortunate thing is that if you follow that thought through, it leads to a different path entirely and you end up never getting to mile 13.1 and never crossing the finish line.
In music, it's hard to say where that finish line is. Learning music is a life long endeavor. However, reaching your goal, i.e. learning to read notes easily, playing a challenging classical piece, transposing easily into different keys, feeling comfortable improvising alone or with others, etc. could be the 13.1 mile marker. And reaching that goal will feel amazing. Crossing that finish line, gave me a true sense of accomplishment because I didn't give up. Tears filled my eyes and I was elated and speechless. I had done it. And now, as the aches and pains subside, I'm thinking about doing it again. But my goal is to be in even better shape so that miles 8 thru 13 feel a little more enjoyable. It can only get easier, right? The same goes with learning the piano. Once a goal is reached, a new goal emerges and the process continues. It's not always fun, not always easy, however, so much is gained by just putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up.
Whatever your goal is, get to it. January 2013 is a perfect time to start something new or return to something that is important to you. You can do it. One step at a time...