One Step then Another

Taking one small step, and then another. It’s how everything gets done.

Building a brick wall, earning your degree, climbing a mountain. One step, then another.  The concept is super simple, but the execution can be tough.

You can get discouraged by external criticism or distracted by other activities and problems (of which there is an endless supply). Negative self-talk can derail you (“This stinks. I’ll never get there!”). Mentally we understand that if we just keep at it we can reach our goal. But, it’s just so damn hard!20161005_102433

My challenge of this type has been being able to run again. I used to love running, especially along scenic wilderness trails. For a decade, I joyfully ran mountains, half marathons, and even a marathon. But, one early season ski day in November 2010, I unwisely launched myself off a big terrain feature. I came down hard onto an ice-solid landing zone. One cracked bone, one severed ACL and two surgically altered knees later, I was up hobbling around.

With a dedicated rehab team, I eventually regained my abilities to hike and climb. But running still eluded me. Each pounding step burned along the residual cracks, holes and implanted parts buried deep in my knees. So, for 5 years I quit running. I missed the exhilaration, the freedom.

Then, after an intense year of training and climbing on Mount Everest, my knees remained comfortable so I decided to try running once again. I sure did not want to give up all the athletic mobility I had regained as a climber, so I knew that I had to be very careful.  Besides, physical pain is a powerful reminder. So, I needed an extremely gradual and cautious plan. Being a “numbers” guy, I decided that I would start by running for one minute. That’s right: ONE minute.

If that felt okay, I would rest up and the next week run two minutes. One step, then another.

With sufficient recovery time and a steady approach, I should eventually be able to run long distance  again. If my knees screamed too loud, I would back off.

Over the past year I’ve completed about 60 runs, with each being a little bit longer than the previous ones. Many runs were good, some were great, and a few were tough and unpleasant.  Most important – its working! Through the discipline of “one step, then another”,  my running abilities have steadily inched upward. I completed my first mile, then my first 5K race.  It wasn’t fast, or pretty, but I was running!

Yesterday, I ran the trails near my house for 80 minutes straight.  Being a numbers guy, I estimate that I ran about 19,808 steps yesterday. Next week, I’ll do that again, and take one more stride.

One step, then another. Simple. Powerful. And, it works.

What goal in your life can you take a step toward?