Are you looking back? Are you running forward? Did you answer ‘yes’ to both questions? Do you realize that looking back and running forward at the exact same moment leaves you stuck on repeat, like a scratched CD that keeps playing the same part of the song to the annoyance of all listeners. Yes, you can look back. Yes, you should run forward. However you should not look back to the detriment of moving forward. Do not look back to a particular point as if it were the most important moment you have or will ever experience when you still have life ahead of you. If you can only do one thing, run baby run! Let it be that you run! Running will get you to the finish line faster and in better condition than looking back ever could. Why talk about running without talking about runners… What do they do? How do they run?
All runners typically have one thing in common – they do not look back during the race. Whether they are running short distance powerful sprints, long distance endurance races, or any distance in between – they do not look back during a race. Whether they are leading the pack or lagging behind their fellow runners – they do not look back during the race. Looking back during the race wastes time, energy and opportunity. It causes the runner to lose track of the finish line, to lose focus on his or her own lane and to lose time that could have been better spent forging ahead. It causes immense distraction and in no way contributes to the purpose of why they are running. That is why runners never look back during the race.
So why do we look back when we should be focusing on moving forward? Why do we spend time regretting paths chosen, decisions taken, actions executed and events occurred at the very moment when we should be fully focused on going full speed ahead? I am not advocating that we should never look back, I am advocating that we should never look back during the race. There is a time for everything! Wallowing, wishing, wondering when one should be planting, watering and working is a waste of time!
The time to look back is not when you hear someone else’s progress report and you start to think of how it could have happened to you too if only something else never did… The time to look back is not when you hear news of how someone who is no longer in your life ended up doing, saying, marrying or achieving whatever it was. Reflection should never be a reflex. Retrospection should not be powered by external factors or emotional negativity, because that reflection time will be more about wishful thinking and regret than reviewing lessons learned and deciding on how to move forward. Do not allow yourself to be triggered and lose focus. Race time is a time to stretch towards your goals, to run towards your milestones, to focus on getting the time you want in that season.
We are not all runners in the technical sense, but the truth is we are each running an individual race and we all have a destiny/destination that we are heading towards. And in deciding to run in such a way as to win our own prize, we can learn a thing or two from actual runners and cover more ground. Not only do runners not look back during the race, runners typically always time themselves. They hardly ever start and stop running without starting and stopping their timers. Whether it’s an early morning training session, a late night run or an actual race day – they keep their eyes on the finish line and their mind on the clock. Why? Because they want to know how well their bodies are adapting, how much their strength is kicking in, how well their endurance is increasing, how much their speed and overall general fitness is improving. They are checking the distance between where they were, where they are and where they are going. They are measuring the progress towards their goals.
Rather than fixating on the past we can also time ourselves like the runners do to assess how far we have come. We can look at where we were last year, last decade or even just last week and see how far we have come. This will help us ascertain our productivity, our general wellbeing and how well we have focused on racing towards our goals. Instead of saying “I wish I never made that decision,” “I cannot believe that person cheated me which changed everything,” or “if only I was not sick/unemployed for a year….” We can use our timers to assess our progress. In this amount of time how far have I come since I made that decision? How much have I gained since I lost everything? How well have I healed since that terrible illness? How much have I accomplished since I decided to pursue this goal? How well am I doing at executing my goals? How disciplined am I becoming? Am I better than the person I was a year ago?
Running is good for the body. It is also good for the soul. People who run are healthier than those who barely walk. People who run are happier than those who remain immobile. Running releases endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body and reduce the body’s perception of pain. So my advice: run baby, run. Run like the runners do and watch the finish line get closer and closer to you. Run in happiness and run in strength. Run towards your goals, do not focus on the falls. Run towards your dreams, do not focus on the nightmares. Run towards your destiny, do not focus on the past. Run towards the finish line, do not focus on those in the next lane. Do not look back during the race, do check your time and do celebrate your progress. Happy running.