Running off course, or back tracking your steps,is an awful experience in an endurance race. In fact, backtracking is demoralizing and takes enormous amounts of energy to bounce back from it. A few years ago I was in a fun 50K trail race. Some very unkind people (a.k.a morons) tore down course markers out in the forest. The lack of trail markers led to me going off course for about 3 miles. It was 3 miles of steep downhill, which only meant I was to run back uphill for 3 miles to get back on course…#boo. Well, I did it and frankly I felt like all that time backtracking was a waste of time that I would never get back. I was not really going forward during that time. And if you’re not going forward you’re wasting effort and energy. However, it was important for me to look at that past mistake and learn going forward. I learned to study courses better and know turnoffs. Once I got back on the trail I had a choice to make… dwell on where I got off course or run forward one step at a time. This had to be a conscious decision. Run forward it was!
You can only go as far as you place your next step, and you’re in a hot mess if that step is way back behind you or too far in front. What am I trying to say here?… If you are wanting progress then you have keep your focus forward, not backward and not too far in the future. This concept is also indispensable in relationships. Let me try to explain…
Looking at the Big Picture
When I prepare for a 100 mile race I always want to learn about the overall layout of the course. I want to learn about the climbs and descents. I want to know what aide stations are most helpful. I like to have and idea about the terrain. All of this information can be daunting and overwhelming… so why do I want to know all of this? Because, when I can look at the big picture I can keep my sight one step ahead of me while knowing that the climb will soon turn to a descent and the rocky terrain will soon turn to smooth single track trail.
How often do we get caught up in a relationship only focusing in the now? It is one thing to be present-minded and another to be overwhelmed by the difficulty of the present moment. Stepping back and considering that the current rockiness will flatten out and the climb can only go so high. Soon the summit comes and thats when you fly down the descent while knowing another climb will be around the corner and still enjoying the moment. How can we love forward and look at the big picture? Recognize that today might be tough but tomorrow can be better and remember why you are trying in the relationship; however, don’t overwhelm yourself with all that needs to be worked on. Keep your eyes on the next step knowing that relief will come. This moment is not forever.
Learning from the Past and Implementing it Forward
Sometimes the past just stinks. It can be hurtful, distasteful, and downright nasty. The problem is that if you are trying to love and move forward then you cannot be looking behind you for too long. Sometimes after a gnarly climb I like to take a few seconds to stand at the top and look back and reflect on what worked and what did not on that climb. I do this because it will only make me stronger and more efficient on the next climb.
Why are we holding the past over the head of the one we love the most? Let”s be real about this. If you are perfect then feel free to hold the past over your loved one’s head. If you believe that past behavior defines the rest of our lives then don’t forgive. Now, I say this as someone who has had to dig deep and ask for forgiveness time after time and would not blame my wife for not forgiving me… but she does.
So, what would it look like if you stood right where you and your loved one are at and looked back for just a few minutes (maybe hours) at the hard climb you’ve been on and evaluate what worked and what did not? Then openly discuss if you feel hurt for being left alone on the trail or shoved off it by one another. If you are not actively trying to love forward and work on learning from the past and forgiving for the past then it is your fault. By default, you are choosing to look backwards while trying to move forward. It does not work that way… you will get trail rashed and that sucks.
Do not talk about all that you “should” make better. That will just create guilt and lead to no actual behavior change. Instead, talk about what you are going to do today to implement better decisions and connection. This is what I mean when I say love forward one step at a time while learning from the past and implementing it forward.
So, Run Forward and Love Forward, and Endure well… with a smile!