Halfway into my 20x400 speed drills, the thought entered my mind. It was in the back of my mind as I finished the 8th 400m loop, and so my 9th loop had become slower. My initial goal was to keep each 400m loop at under 1:20, which would be a sub 5:20 mile pace, and it would be very challenging. After focusing on the 24 hour races, I lost a good bit of speed and needed to catch up with one of my Cross Country runners before October.
After each 400m lap, I would take a break to get back to about 90% as I was working on my top speed, and then go again. At first, it was a little bit uncomfortable, but definitely doable, but after the second mile was over, my legs felt a little harder, and mentally, I wasn't feeling that good.
Then the voice came into my head.
No one is going to know if I stop now. I'd still get a good workout from just getting in 10 laps. It's good enough.
The greatest discourager, the greatest enemy is usually ourselves, and at this time, I was convincing myself that what I had done was good enough... which was actually true. Doing the 10 laps will make me faster, and technically, it was good enough. After a 3 mile warm up and 2.5 miles of speed drills, it was good enough...
At that moment, I was at a crossroad. I could choose the easy way out, get some of the benefits and get out feeling pretty good about the workout... or I could choose to continue on and push myself hard and get myself to a point of near exhaustion.
We often come to the crossroads when things get tough. Good enough is the enemy of greatness, and most people are okay with being good enough.
But there was one problem. It started with a lie. Somebody does know if I stopped halfway. I would know. If I accept my current status and walk through the door of 'good enough,' I would become a good enough runner, a good enough person. However, my standards are different. I know I can be good enough. I know that it is easy to be good enough, or to be pretty good, but I also know that my goal isn't to become good enough, but to be the best I can be, and in stopping half way, I let that go.
The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching.
I don't wake up every morning ready to go pound out miles. I don't go to every speed drill ready to take on the world. I don't have anyone around me that forces me to do these things, to encourage me to push on... and it gets tough. I know the workouts will be grueling, and nobody really WANTS to be exhausted... but I WANTED to become better, to become the best, and that meant that I needed to overcome the thoughts in my head and push forward.
After the thought came into my head, I shook that away. I decided to raise the bar, raise my standard. Instead of going for a sub 1:20, I would go for a sub 1:15, pushing a sub 5:00 mile for the last 2.5 miles. I pushed on, I tired, but I thrived at every lap, pushing my limits aside and creating new ones. I pushed hard, and as the laps I had to do went down, I became faster and faster, finishing the last 400m at a 1:08. My legs were shot, and I was tired... but I was also satisfied. I had battled my inner demons and won. The 3 mile cooldown was nothing because I didn't have to run fast.
I'm a fighter, and though I may not win every fight, I will continue to struggle as I progress. There will be mental walls, physical walls, emotional walls... but as long as I continue to struggle, I come closer to achieving my goal... as long as I don't give up on myself, there will always be that chance that I can make it to the end.
Today, I pushed aside the lie as I pushed myself. I finished the 20x400 with an average of 1:14, a big step closer. As I win these battles, I solidify my character, as I solidify my character, I become stronger, and as I become stronger, I come closer to achieving my goal.
Keep your heart in the game and your eyes on the prize.