When I give presentations about our family’s 2015 Run Across America one of the most popular questions is “How did you do it?!?” I am never quite sure how to give a succinct answer because 18 months of training and planning went into our family successfully accomplishing the goal that Shamus had set forth for us.
The goal was 3200+ miles in 60 days. To look at the goal as a whole was dauting to say the least. On more than one occasion I thought about the enormity of the task set before us and simply could not fathom how I would run from coast to coast while pushing Shamus in his running chair. Not to mention that the journey needed to take place in a specified timeline. Summer vacation was all the time we had! When I looked at the maps, and roads, and mountains and DISTANCE as a whole, it seemed insurmountable.
However, I quickly realized that this “task” like any other, could be broken up into parts. I started breaking it down. I looked at mileage state by state. Some states (Washington, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota) would take me a full week). Others (The Bottle Neck of Idaho, a quick jaunt into Minnesota and Wyoming, a final push through New Jersey), would only take a couple of days. The rest would be somewhere in between. Rest assured it was not lost on me that no matter what, the math couldn’t be altered, 3200+ miles, 60 days…I would have to cover 56+ miles per day on foot no matter what. I could look at it as one state at a time…but honestly that was still too much to digest.
I broke it down further, day by day. Some days we would cover 70 miles, others we would “only” go ~40. That still seemed like a lot since at the time we were planning our transcontinental passage (late 2013), I had only run over 40 miles three times. During the summer of 2015, I would be covering more than that distance every day for 2 months straight.
As I planned and plotted each days distance, I began to break it down further…15 mile pit stops where I could rendezvous with the support crew, rest, rehydrate and refuel. 15 miles…that seemed a lot more manageable to me…until we actually got started!
Once we started in Seattle, the temperatures soared at or above a hundred every day. It was unseasonably hot in the Pacific Northwest. We knew it would be hot but didn’t know how much it would take a toll on my ability to rehydrate each day. I always carried water with me, but simply could not carry enough to get me through 15 miles. In the first few days of our run I lost something like 15 pounds. There was no way to keep it up. At that rate, I’d wither away to nothing before we got through the Cascade mountains in Washington.
We quickly decided to break our goal down further. We decided 5 mile increments most days would be manageable. While we would still be averaging 56+ miles, we tried to make it so I was never farther than 5 or so miles from the RV. It required a lot of planning on Nichole’s part…quickly searching for pull off points for the RV while Shay and I ran and rolled. Most days for the entire journey we were able to stick to our mini goals of 5 miles at a time. There were days that 5 miles felt long. I had to focus on 1 mile, or the next telephone pole, or mailbox, or top of the next hill. There were even days I had to remind myself that every single step, one at a time, was bringing us closer. From 3200 miles, to a single step, we deconstructed an enormous feat and turned it into a successful mission. Before we knew it we had covered the distance between Pacific and Atlantic. We had become so focused on the “five miles at a time” that the finish line actually kind of snuck up on us. We couldn’t believe we had “already” made it.
I believe that any and every goal can be broken down into “mini goals”. The biggest and smallest goals alike have component parts. When we look at the parts, we can make the goal so much more manageable. Trying to lose 20 pounds? It seems like a lot…take it one pound, 1 day, 1 meal, 1 bite at a time. Trying to learn a new musical instrument or language or skill? It can seem impossible at first…your brain hurts as you first try something new…begins with one session, 15 minutes, 5 minutes, ONE minute of practice at a time.
So, as you set your goals this year and into the future…Break them in to the smallest pieces you can think of. With persistence ANYTHING is possible.
#TogetherWeShall accomplish our #MiniGoals