4 Strategies for Surviving the Two-mile Start
I have been a semi-avid runner for the last fifteen years. Over the years, running has become a way for me to pray, reflect, learn, and listen. I do everything from prepare for an important meeting to dance to my favorite new song while I’m running. (Cue JT’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”) And most importantly running is justification for eating more sugar than I ought. My motto is, “I run for treats.”
But for all the things I enjoy about running, I still hate the beginning.
The Temptation to Quit Too Early
Even after fifteen years and roughly 10,000 miles logged (including several half marathons), I still feel like I want to quit during the first two miles OF EVERY RUN!
It takes this long for my body to settle in, for my mind to settle down and for everything to start working together more fluidly. And if I don’t remind myself of this, I will get frustrated and sometimes even quit. Too many times I’ve forgotten this principle, and I’ve given up with excuses that, “I’m just too tired,” “something must be wrong… maybe I’m sick,” or “maybe I’m just not cut out for running anymore,”
This principle not only applies to running, but it also applies to most of the challenges we face in life. I remember when I was working on the development of The 4 Sight Group. While I was incredibly passionate about equipping leaders with the foresight for extraordinary outcomes, the beginning stages of starting a new organization were challenging. It felt like I was in the first two miles. It was easy to want to give up. It was hard work because not all the systems ran smoothly. I wondered if I was cut out for the challenge.
Are you in the early stages of a new project, a new relationship, or a new job?
How to Get Through the Two-mile Start
1. Don’t be alarmed when it’s harder than you expected.
The reason why we start new things is that we have a vision. We see the potential. Don’t lose sight of that vision when the reality of what it takes sets in, and it seems impossible. Stay the course and remember the two-mile principle.
2. Don’t quit in the first two miles.
Before you start your new endeavor, anticipate when to expect resistance. Every fresh start has a few moments of bliss, but inevitably, it takes a turn. You encounter a problem; you have your first fight; you have a difference of opinion with a coworker. Anticipate this ahead of time so that it doesn’t blindside you.
3. Build a support team.
You need people who will remind you of why you need to keep going. When my friend Rachel and I ran half-marathons together, she would write her name all over her t-shirt so that those watching the race would cheer her on by name. It was brilliant! As she ran, she constantly heard people cheer, “Go Rachel go!”. Make sure you have friends, mentors, and allies who will cheer you on during the difficult days.
4. Plan your reward.
You need to have something to look forward to when you make it through the difficult points. Before you begin, determine when and how you’ll celebrate. I approach every single day by building my schedule with some of my most challenging work early in the day and finishing with something I enjoy like reading a book, taking a walk with a friend or enjoying my favorite cup of tea. Whatever the project you’re facing, give yourself something to look forward to at those different increments.
Leaders do hard things. We charter new territory so others can follow more easily. Don’t let the initial resistance of a startup defeat you. Stay the course.
Keep leading well.
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
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Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.