Sometimes progress sneaks up so slowly, we don't notice it from one day to the next. Change is subtle. Growth is quiet. Without even realizing it, four miles has become comfortable.
Several months ago, I completed my first four miler in ages. It wasn't pretty. Since then, I've had numerous bumps and setbacks. Discipline and motivation have been constant struggles, requiring me to completely rework my routine. My former method was no longer successful, so I tried a wide variety of options -- strength training, biking, yoga, swimming, Zumba. The results of these experiments have not always been apparent. I'm often the least advanced in the class, and my small weights are nothing compared to the beefcakes who bench on either side of me. I hadn't noticed much progress, but I continued to try.
Finally, it's working.
I committed to a half marathon in October 2013, and last week I began my formal training. I anticipated a rocky start, as many of my recent endeavors have not gone well. Four miles was the plan for Day 1. I did it. Quite comfortably, at that. Thinking it may have been a fluke or just adrenaline from the excitement of a new race, I tried the course again on Thursday, and yet a third time this morning. Each time, I felt strong and prepared.
By no means do I expect this to continue for every run. As I continue to increase the distance, there will no doubt be bad days. Some runs will hurt, some will be slow, some will make me turn red and sweaty, and some will fill my head with negative thoughts that I can't quite shake.
But my positive four mile streak gives me hope. If I can push through the bad runs, I can make it to the good ones. And before I know it, I'll be crossing the finish line.