I was coming off three bad races in a row, two DNFs (Did Not Finish) and a DFL (Dead Fricking Last) and I was beginning to think that maybe I needed to retire from this trail racing/ultra running thing and run normal distances like the marathon or something. None of my bad finishes were physical, every single one was a mental mistake. My first race was a muddy, sloppy mess and I let the environment discourage me and ran much slower than the conditions warranted and missed the second time cut off by a mere 10 minutes. My second race I forgot to have caffeine and spent the first half of the race in a fog before discovering a tiny glass of Coke did wonders. My third race I was doing great until about forty miles into it, my lack of staying on my nutrition plan caught up to me and I struggled in the last 11 miles before dropping due to sickness.
Something had to happen to get me off this downward spiral and force my mind back to thinking I was capable of doing the seemingly impossible.
Life Is Like a Book
And that’s when it hit me. Life is like a book and when I am reading something and I don’t like the way it is shaping up, rather than just soak in the words I don’t like, I have the ability to choose when to turn the page. There are many books I read where the author keeps repeating what they were saying in a previous chapter and rather than just re-read their words again I just turn the page. The majority of the time I find that when I turn the page there are fresh ideas and concepts for me to grasp on the next page and I can get back to enjoying the book.
Turning the Page
So that is what I did with my ultra running. I turned the page, decided not to dwell on what I didn’t do right. The next race I entered was a difficult half marathon trail race, well over 2500’ of elevation gain over just a half marathon distance. I decided to challenge myself though and do something different. I went out with the young runners at the front of the pack and when it came to the first major hill climb I stayed within my running abilities and let them charge off. Before I knew it I was catching back up to them and ended up with a top ten finish. Crowded in among the twenty and thirty-year-olds I felt really good with my finish as an over fifty runner. My next race I decided to go for negative splits and run the first half of the race at a slower, more controlled pace and then the last 16 miles hammer down and try for a faster pace. Despite the rain coming down in buckets all day long, a messy trail and dropping temperatures I finished with my best time ever at the distance and recorded faster times in the second half of the race than the first. I had turned the page in my running.
I have been thinking a lot about the success of my approach to running and turning the page and how it really does relate to life. I am sure if you have lived the perfect life with no challenges none of this will make sense to you. Perhaps though, like me, there are many of you out there who have not had perfect lives, you have struggled with issues your whole life and many times in attempting to carve out victory you have instead found yet another defeat.
What if instead of dwelling on the defeat you just simply turned the page? Just take the book you are reading right now and turn the page. Take life and all of its challenges and simply turn the page. If you are struggling writing, instead of banging your head on the page you can’t seem to get right, turn the page.
The Discoveries on the Turned Page
Here’s what I have found on the turned page. I have found new wisdom, new challenges, new beliefs, new joy, new friends and new mentors. I won’t pretend to understand why all I know is that the new page is simply that — it is a new page.
Sometimes when I turn the page I discover that it is blank and that really feels me with joy and resolve. A blank page is a page that I get to put the etchings on. I get to decide what is going to be on that page. These pages can be glorious because they’re blank, nothing has been written on them. Nobody has scrawled “LOSER” over the whole page and caused me to think I’ll never amount to anything. It’s a new page and because I have faith in a King who fills me with His love, His desires, His grace and His forgiveness my new page is always filled with hope and dreams. My new page is filled with plans that will care for me, plans that will give me hope for a future.
Turning the Page is Uncomfortable
The most difficult part of turning the page is that we like comfort, the familiar and even if that comfortable and familiar place is leaving us broken, often times we will still stay in that place. Oftentimes, we know staying in that place isn’t good for us but we seem to be paralyzed by the fear of the unknown or the untried and we just can’t seem to mentally get out of the way so we can become who we were truly created to be.
As with my running, I knew that I was stringing together a bunch of results that I was not pleased with. I kept preparing and training for these runs the exact same way, no change-ups, no mental or physical shifts. And to my utter lack of surprise, I kept getting the same results. What is the definition of insanity? Besides running really long distances, it is doing the same thing as you did before expecting a different result. This doesn’t work in running ultramarathons, it doesn’t work in business, it doesn’t work in writing and it for sure won’t work in the book of life.
Keeping with the tried and true, refusing to discover new ways to fuel on long runs or hydrate will not get you better results. It can only cause you to get the same results. Trying to force the same words on the page will not get you better results, it will only get you the same results. Trying to elect the same people we keep electing will not get us better results, it will only get you the same results. Trying to build your business the same way business was built fifteen minutes ago will not get you better results, it will only get you the same results.
Don’t Change, Get Same Results
If you’re perfectly happy with the results you are getting then don’t change a thing. Don’t turn the page, just stay right there on that page. I and all the people turning the page with me will be passing you by though. If you keep writing the same stuff you’ve been writing because you’ve been getting a pretty good views and people seem to like what you write doesn’t mean you’re getting better as a writer or a salesperson or a wife or a husband or a mother or a father or teacher or anything you are doing. It means you’re staying right there on that page and you’re not going to turn the page and see what is on the next page.
I don’t know about you but I’m turning the page and when this page is full and I’ve gotten everything out of it I can, I’m going to turn the page again…and again…and again…and again. That is why life is like a book, it is only useful if you keep turning the page to discover the newness on the next page.
So what do you say? Ready to be a page turner instead of a page dweller with me?