The year I turned fifty I decided that to celebrate this momentous occasion I would run fifty miles on my birthday. I knew it would be hard, knew it would be hot and knew it would take a long time. As I ran that day I just kept repeating to myself “just keep moving forward”. Around the forty mile mark I was done, I was toast. I had nothing left to give to this run. I began thinking that it had been a noble attempt but there was no way I could go another mile. And then something surged up within me, something I have no idea where it came from. I angrily yelled loudly to myself “Just do it Mike!!!” And then I just began moving forward again, one foot in front of the other. And as I stepped into my sister-in-law’s driveway at the end of fifty miles I wept. I had done something I never would have thought possible four years before when I began running and it was possible because I adopted a Just Do It attitude.
Waiting for the perfect situation will never allow us to transition well. There is no right time to transition, whether that be a new job or adjusting to an empty nest. There will never be the perfect boss, the perfect organization, the perfect church or even the perfect spouse. However, we can transition from one aspect of life to another gracefully if we always tell ourselves that there is no sense in waiting. When we decide that we have what it takes now and it is just a matter of stepping outside our comfort zone we can make our transitions more natural and allow ourselves a greater peace as we make these transitions. First though we must put aside the self-defeating thoughts and begin to think of life as something that we just do, we just reach out and decide to do something and then never allow ourselves to quit or give up.
Transition will be painful, almost as painful as a fifty or hundred mile run, but we do have everything we need to make these transitions inside us now. Unlocking this will force you to make a vow to move relentlessly forward with the decision to just do it, just move through the pain and do it.
I will never forget the day I was running a new trail and I came up this really steep ascent and as I came to the top the picture before me literally took my breath away. I was a bit in front of the person who was running with me and as I took in this sweeping body of water ringed with trees all around and the sweeping mountains in the background I was nearly in tears at the beauty. As I stood there in breathless wonderment all I could do is whisper to myself “Thank you, thank you, thank you God”. I am so thankful for times like these in the mountains and on the trails when I either run around a bend or come down into a canyon or top a hard ascent and I’m greeted with such incredible beauty and majesty just set right there for me to admire and be thankful for.
This characteristic hasn’t always been a part of my lifestyle. I grew up surrounded by incredible beauty, had the privilege of sailing around the world in the Navy, have visited some of the most stunning places all around the world and I missed the beauty. I missed the beauty not because I didn’t see it but because I was so busy expecting the beauty to do something for me. I have also, regretfully, missed the beauty of people around me because I was expecting them to notice me, promote me, help make me wealthy or make me feel important. I missed the beauty because I was jealously expecting something for myself instead of being thankful for the opportunity to experience such natural beauty and human beauty. I decided as I began running and losing weight that I would be thankful for everything around me, even when there are times when I’m not enjoying life or faced with a struggle that will be difficult.
Being thankful allows me to see people, nature and even traffic differently. I notice that as my attitude changes that situations change. I’m not wealthier, healthier or have more friends or prestige but I am at peace. Being thankful has brought me a peace that I could never have achieved trying to get people to notice me or promote me or think I’m awesome.
Thankfulness keeps propelling me relentlessly forward in this great adventure called life. I would love to see you join me on this adventure, with a thankful heart and attitude.#RelentlessForwardMovement
I’m taking a yoga class called Balance and Flex Together and it is all about building a stable core along with flexibility. I watch videos of ultra runners and they leap up and down mountain sides like gazelles. When I run I look like a buffalo and am content to just sort of crash through the turns, ascents and descents. My style of running doesn’t lend itself to great finishes and makes recovery even more difficult. So I began researching flexibility and balance and everything I read said yoga as a key. I put this off for over a year because every time I have watched a yoga video or talked to people doing yoga the instructor always seems like a weird spiritual creature that I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around. One day as a bunch of us were driving down the mountain after a run one of the gals started talking about a class she was teaching at the local YMCA. She said it was yoga to music but very much combined balance, stability and flexibility. Knowing this person was a pretty solid human being from our runs I decided to take a chance. To my ever wondering brain I am finding myself able to run trails less like a buffalo and more like a gazelle.
You’re probably wondering what that little story has to do with transitions. To transition well we all must become more flexible. To be more flexible often takes nothing more than a decision on our part. In today’s partisan, bickering world there is no flexibility. This leads to a rigid lifestyle where you aren’t able to see the beauty, the intelligence or the opportunity in others’ viewpoints. As we transition from point to point, it is important that to become flexible in the way we see ourselves and others around us. The world today is trying to convince us that we have to believe one way or another and I’m here to tell you that if we have a firm foundation then it is relatively easy to be flexible enough to steer our way around the obstacles and transitions of life without losing who we really are. My favorite definition of flexible is “able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions.”
The wonder of being flexible is how it allows you to interact with the world around us. Rather than just crashing through life like a buffalo on the trails, we can gracefully bound up and down mountains, saving our body, mind and spirit a lot of battering and bruises. In a life lived moving relentlessly forward there is no time for crashing through walls and mountains. #RelentlessForwardMovement
When I started running I kept reading about this strange concept of a strong core. At the time I was still pretty large so my immediate response wasn’t “build core”! No my immediate response was “I just want to see my toes past my stomach”. As I continued running I realized that as I lost weight and look down to introduce myself to my toes again, one of the keys to running injury free was to learn to foot strike under my core. This of course required a strong core so I could run more upright. As I took pressure off my legs, I found with a more upright posture it was easier to breathe and my legs didn’t get as sore.
Now if I could apply that to my every day life. What is my foundation based upon? If my foundation is built around the latest fads and trends, I would have a foundation constantly shifting and slouchy. A shifting foundation cannot be strong because it will shifts and molds to the latest “thing”. If I want to build a strong foundation, something upon which I can smoothly and gracefully make the transitions in life, I would have to find something constant and concrete in an ever-changing world. This means I must place less emphasis on my feelings and emotions, and be able to dig deep for the truth and build a strong core on truth.
To transition well in life, find and build upon a firm foundation or core. As core strengthens, relentless forward movement becomes a reality.
Two weekends ago I was running up one of our local canyons and the grass and weeds along the trail had grown up quite tall. As I was cruising through a mini switchback section with grass as tall as my head I noticed in front of me a long limb from some berry bush with tiny barbs sticking out of it. My immediate response was to transition from my left to my right foot while at the same time twisting slightly to my left in a mini pirouette to avoid the thorns. Just as I did this with my left foot in the air my right foot hit an unseen rock sticking out. The result was less than spectacular as I found myself once again falling straight forward with nothing to break my fall but my hands, arms and shoulders. After taking a deep breath and spitting some water from my hydration pack on all the cuts to get most of the dirt out of the cuts I continued up the mountain until I felt I had gone far enough for the day and turned around and ran back.
That is an example of a transition that had a bad result but one I could bounce back up from. We all have transitions in life and it is our response to these transitions that define who we will become in the long run. Guess what we are all going to get old, we are going to transition from our younger, more active selves to a different body we will have to learn how to adjust to. How will you transition, make the changes and keep moving forward? There are career transitions, location transitions, home life transitions and so many more that I could go on and on. With all of these we must learn how to respond and keep moving forward.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting some practical guidance based of course with stories from the trails as I run through life that will hopefully help you prepare for the transitions in your life by giving you some practical tips on how to keep moving relentless forward in this ultra life we live. You will notice some transitions to this website as I prepare for the launch of my first book launch, Living An Ultra Life that will include a free gift of my journal. Life Is A Marathon is a journal I wrote years ago for myself that I have put in PDF form and will send to everybody who signs up for my bi-monthly newsletter or who shares my site on social media and emails me to let me know. There will also be a Living An Ultra Life Facebook page going up and maybe even Twitter. Once again I am making another transition in life and I can’t wait to live this adventure with all of you.
Life is best lived when you are in the pursuit of something bigger than what you think you can do.
However with attempting big things,
failure happens, unless of course you go through life only attempting what you know you can accomplish.
When you step out to attempt something difficult, something beyond what you may think you can do sometimes the result isn’t what you’d like to see.
This now becomes your opportunity to decide between a number of options.
1. Play it safe and conservative.
2. Try the same thing again, dogged perseverance.
3. Try something else as “that” didn’t work.
4. Learn from what didn’t work, put in the hard work of improving and then set bigger goals.
Option #4 is relentless forward movement with continual improvement and this is where living a full life begins.
No longer can you choose to just get by, ask yourself “what if I had” or even slump into never attempting anything difficult.
When you tattoo Relentless Forward Movement on your brain you will always live a life of challenging yourself to go beyond.
“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be…….” I changed the words to “getting your big butt up the side of the mountain” as I tried catching my breath in the midst of a run where I gained over 3000’ of altitude gain in just three miles. It was one of those too steep for words grades straight up the side of a mountain where every time you came to a crest you hoped it was the last one only to be disappointed as you lifted your head to see yet another pitch in front of you. The overwhelming feeling when I finally crested the last pitch and saw nothing but flattish ground and trees and even a couple downhills lifted my spirits and made my feet feel like they were floating on air. “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18 Hope is a funny thing you know because it’s such an incredible feeling of expectation and wish for a certain thing to happen. As I continue to push myself past what I believe I am I find that hope is a very sensible thing to possess in abundance because it keeps me able to endure what I am going through.
Hope is what keeps me moving relentlessly forward as I continue to pursue this ultra life.
I’m not sure if anybody else is aware of this but moose are really LARGE! I was up running in the mountains and in the distance noticed one of our fine, furry friends just munching on some grass. I paused my run, took a long distance picture and happily continued to amble on. Suddenly I looked over to my left and there he was, right at the fence line only about 50 yards away from me. That made me nervous, when he leaped the fence and came out on the road I was running that made me even more nervous. Eventually after about a half mile of this he grew bored with me. And all I could say was “Thank God!” Which of course got me thinking about just what it means to be thankful and how to put it in the perspective of pushing yourself past what you think you are able to do. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 When we push ourselves mentally, physically and yes even spiritually there is no other place to go than thankfulness because no matter what gets thrown our way we can give thanks continually, rejoice always and pray continually. These were the exact things I was thinking with my friendly moose only in a different order. I was praying continually “please go the other way”, rejoicing always “awesome he went the other way” and thankful in all circumstances “Thank you God that I got to see that moose so closely I could make out the raised up fur on his back”.
Relentless forward movement is all about being thankful continually in all circumstances as you live an ultra life and watch how your perspective on life changes.
I really wanted to get out on a trail running, the weather wasn’t cooperating so the trails were full of snow and there didn’t seem any way to get there. So I did what any runner desperate for some trail miles would do……I went out on the trail any way. And of course as I “ran” along the trail the snow kept getting deeper and deeper and wetter and wetter and as I came above this rise and the mountains peeked above the clouds shimmering in the beautiful whiteness of new snow I realized just how blessed I am able to move my body and run through the incredible scenery that God has painted just for me to enjoy. Psalm 76:4 “You are glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains.” Being blessed enables me to run in such majesty means that as I enjoy the beauty God has placed me in I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. That requires that sometimes I need to get uncomfortable enough to put yourself into circumstances where you can see His majesty in ways you never knew you could put yourself in.
Relentless forward movement also requires being willing to put yourself into uncomfortable situations so you can truly live an ultra life.
Spring snow storms are really………..interesting. I chose that word because it was better than the cuss word I wanted to use. We recently had a storm that started on a Wednesday afternoon and finally melted off the following Monday. During this wonderful spring snow storm our basement flooded which normally wouldn’t be a big deal but we ended up having to pump the water out of the basement so it wouldn’t get to the level and put out our water heater pilot light. The exhaustion of continually pumping out water, carrying buckets out to the alley and then constructing a canal to drain water away from the house was in many ways worse than running an ultra marathon. Somewhere in this strange water marathon I realized that strength could only be exhibited by moving forward. As I was pumping out the basement wishing I was out running a mountain trail this strange verse came into my head out of nowhere. “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.” Well with all the water my hands were pretty well clean but as I dwelt on this verse it dawned on me that clean hands come from surrendering pride and self-sufficiency to my God.
As we move relentless forward in this ultra life it is important to look at obstacles as ways to continue to put off the things that hold us back and see the ways that God is moving in our lives.