I joined my house’s track team as soon as I got into secondary school. Of course, there was no formal joining process at the time, it was as simple as asking the question, “Can you run?”, and you were pitted against first, other juniors like you whose mettle had not been proven, and then later others who had become champions of their houses over time. If you were good enough, showed potential to be trained, then you became a runner for your house, and by extension, conscripted into the school’s track and relay team.
In my first Inter-house sports games I ran the 1500 meters open race for my house. It was the first time I would run anything longer than 100 meters, and the pain in my limbs and tears that wouldn’t stop falling because of the air in my eyes were the easier parts. The hard part was coming 8th, the last qualifying position. I hated it, hated that I had lost, so from then on I trained for that race every year. Each year, I improved and moved up the ranks just a little bit. By my fourth year (SS1) I won first place. I was looking forward to defending my title in the next year, but alas, the games did not hold; there were even fewer sports outings that year – we only ever trained when we had an event – so my training all but stopped.
With my final year came what would be my last Inter-house sports games. Since final year students were taking exams, we weren’t allowed to join in early morning training until a few days to the actual games. Yet, somehow, my house expected that I would win the 1500 meters race, and boasted about it quite a lot to the annoyance of other hopefuls; I was the reigning champion, after all.
The long distance races usually took place on the Heat, along with other qualifier events. So when heat day came, I got on the track to the shouts and cheers of my adoring housemates…
…and fell on my face before the start of the second lap.
I actually fell! Out of breath, face down, cramping legs etcetera. I remember not believing it, not believing that after reigning supreme, I would loose the very last time I ran the 1500 meters race. But the truth was, deep down, I knew why I couldn’t have won. I had stopped training. For far too long. I had lost my endurance.
Now, what does this have to with anything?
In the past weeks, I’ve written about being intentional and getting queues, but the truth is by now, everything that used to compete for your energy and time is back in full swing doing just that; maybe you’ve even fallen off the wagon because of them and skipped a few days working on your goals. This is okay. The way forward is to keep building endurance.
“But how do I build endurance when I can’t even get consistent?” You may ask.
Well, the only way to build endurance is to endure; to keep pushing and keep trying to do those things you set out to do day after day. Fighting hard to get yourself committed to your plan is part of the process. The key is to not stop.
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do, remember?”
When I trained for that race, it wasn’t like I had any form of a training schedule. To be honest, I really only trained in the second term (or when we had a sports outing) which was when our Inter-house sports games held, but we almost always trained from the first week of school. This gave me a month plus of prep to get in shape for the games. And maybe if I had stayed true to the first-week-in-January-and-occasional-sport-outing training schedule in my 5th year, I may have been able to defend the 1500 meters title in my final year.
Everything you want to get good at is like building a muscle. At first, it will be painful (read stressful, inconvenient, downright impossible), but the only way to get used to the pain is to keep at it till you don’t feel the pain anymore. So, though it may seem like everything you set out to do wants to do you in, don’t stop. Keep building your endurance, day in day out – even after the days you fall – and slowly, but surely, you’ll become a champion at keeping up with your goals.
Until next time, endure.