Last week I took our new puppy, Gus, on his first trail run. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed.
I had a sneaking suspicion he was going to be a bit of a drag, but I didn’t really know how much. His cousin, our 10-year old late puppy Ajax, was also a bit of a lush when it came to exercise. He was known for sitting down and rolling onto his back when he was done. Keep in mind that his version of “done” was usually in the middle of nowhere, somewhere right around the middle of the run! Try moving a 130 pound Malamute who has decided to roll over onto his back. Not happening.
But I was optimistic. I thought we’d avoid the roads and make it fun by running a few miles on some trails up the road from our house. Trail running has rekindled my love of the sport. Lost in the silence of the woods surrounded by the beauty of nature combines all my most favorite things. I thought he would like it too.
So I loaded him in the truck and off we went. Less than a quarter mile into the run it was clear I would be leading. A lot. At the halfway point there was no doubt. I knew what he was: LAZY.
See what I mean??!
I assure you, we ran this way nearly the entire time. At one point we came to a fallen tree across our path. I hopped over but he stopped cold, sat down and wouldn’t budge. One foot high was apparently too high to jump! But I pressed him. Instead of getting mad, I kept my voice upbeat and encouraged him on. At varying times, I coaxed him, baited him or dragged him. I did whatever it took to keep him from rolling onto his back and quitting. I promise I did allow him to stop a few times to rest but I told him we would finish strong. There was never any question about that. There is never a question about that. Every run, no matter how hard it gets or how much it hurts, my goal – my mantra – is to finish strong.
Because no matter how many miles I have run, or how many I set out to run, it’s never the middle that matters. The middle is where we’re made. What I remember most is the finish. Crossing the line, reaching my driveway or finding my car that marks the finish; what I remember is that I didn’t quit. That I made it through. That I finished strong despite whatever doubt or obstacle tried to hold me back.
Our mind is the greatest weapon we wield and so often we let it succumb to stopping. We convince ourselves it would be better, or easier, or more comfortable to quit. But it’s a lie. One that sets us up for defeat every single time. Very rarely in life is it a matter of can you…sometimes it is…but far more often it’s a question of will you?
What race have you been called to run? Will you run your race? Will you finish strong?
Never once has finishing strong been on account of my talent. Never once has it been something about me that is better or stronger or fitter than anyone else. Every time, without fail, it’s been about a decision to keep going. A decision, maybe a million times over every minute and every footfall, to finish strong. To run my race. To never give up.
Sometimes we’re dragging behind. Sometimes we’re dragging someone behind us. Sometimes everything and everyone just feels like a drag. Wherever you are today, don’t quit. Whether you need to drag yourself or get someone else to drag you: don’t stop. Whatever is calling out to you – whether that is to run or to live or to dream – you know what it is, and you know the temptation you face to stop.
Today, I just want to encourage you not to. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t roll over onto your back half way through. Finish strong! There is sweet satisfaction in finishing the race you were called to run. In pushing through to find the best that is already in you. In finding out that you actually COULD, after all.
I mean seriously, look at this face. Glory!
What race are you running? What obstacles are trying to hold you back? Finish strong my friend! YOU CAN DO IT. I believe in you. And sometimes that’s all we need. GO. Do the work. Run the race you have been called to run, and live.
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