Failure is a word I do not like and have made a concerted effort in recent years to become increasingly comfortable with. Especially given my new role as a step-mom (full time), I needed to normalize failure and role-model how to embrace it for the best. I made a lot of strides in this regard in my work life and with the kiddos. I did not embrace this new philosophy in my inner sanctuary; running. One year into this new adventure of parenting, partnering, and working and I had lost my fitness way. So I set out to complete a half marathon in the fall. It was a pricey one at that.
My first 4-6 weeks of training went beautifully! Then I missed a run here or there for work or for family. Before I knew it, excuses took over and I was barely running once every week or two. I was still determined to show up on race day (after all, it was pricey). Race day was spread across two days – a 5k on Friday evening and the half on Saturday morning. I was doing both. My family dutifully showed up and helped me do pretty well with the 5k. The next morning was an early start so I gave them my estimated finish time and left hours before them. The first five miles were ok. The other 8.1 were ROUGH. It ended up being my worst half time of the 3 I had done and I felt physically terrible afterwards. Like lay on the couch the rest of the day level terrible. To me it was a resounding failure.
It felt like I had taken such a huge step back and I’m a move forward type of person. I tend to be a very linear thinker and expect no room for detours in my life (despite the NUMEROUS I’d had). Defining this completion as a failure left me feeling the least motivated I’d ever been to run. So I simply stopped. Every couple of months I would go through the motions of pretending to want to get back into it, but the cloud of FAILURE still loomed and metaphorically rained on every run I started. I kept thinking about where I used to be physically and where I should be. That turned every single run into a failure.
Fast forward and I am deciding whether I should take a big “step back” in my career to follow a project I love and get more time with my family. Feeling tired of feeling tired, I accept it. In a lightbulb moment I realize what everyone else knows, life is not linear and it not following an arbitrary straight line does not mean you are failing. Embrace the actual failures as lessons and stop turning every side or back step into miserable failure. With that in mind, I am deciding to embark again on a running journey. This time celebrating the success of movement NOT the measurement against some other version of myself. I created a race bib and medal hanger for myself and as I contemplated what inspirational message to put on it, one kept shining through. If you have ever seen the cult classic movie Kill Bill then you may remember Uma Thruman giving herself a “pep” talk in the back of a truck that included the phrase “now wiggle your big toe” (essentially awaking paralyzed limbs, but let’s put that aside). To me that phrase “now wiggle your big toe” is about taking the smallest bites of a big goal. I want to run a half again
but AND for today I will wiggle my big toe (metaphorically most days) to get myself there. And each day I wiggle it a little more, I throw an internal party. So with that I will say, go wiggle your big toe.