Map Making

The postcard announcing the April event arrived along with the winter weight to my belly. For a runner, five miles is a modest goal. But despite giving running a go a time or two each year, I had never completed a run longer than a 5k. (That’s 3.1 miles if you’re a “not a runner” like me.)

This new goal meant going someplace I had never gone before. I’d need a map.

Where do I want to go? It sounds obvious. Sometimes we only know the general direction in which we are headed. This time I knew my destination. I registered for the event, making a declaration of my intention to reach my destination.

Where am I? How do I start? To create my map, I first needed to know where I was. The last time I had been for a run was so long ago I could not remember when it was or how far I had gone. I laced up my shoes. With lots of walking breaks along the way, I was able to complete 2 miles. That’s where I was. And I had started with that first step.

Where do I start? I start where I am—really. Where I am in my head is not where I am in reality. In my head I am the girl with short chubby legs who never went out for a single sport in high school and had her GPA lowered by her grade in gym class. In my head I am “not athletic” and definitely “not a runner.” In reality, I have run three miles many times, climbed 40 flights of stairs without stopping, and am fit than I was a decade ago. More importantly, I was committed.

How do I know I’m going in the right direction?
I wanted to go to a place of improved strength and stamina. I was not seeking to outrun anyone but my former self. I was headed toward a place of confidence in my ability to continue to stretch myself beyond past limits. I was going toward a celebration that I have a body that is so healthy I have the good fortune of being able to set out on a new path.

Knowing the “Why” reassured me I was headed in the right direction.

What’s the best route for me? I like to know where I am going and when I am going, even if my path occasionally meanders. I chose my small next steps, picking the days and the distances. I put them in writing. Keeping sight of the map of my path I was less likely to lose sight of it. When the temperatures dip below freezing, it’s easier to adjust plans rather than be derailed by the setback of a spring snowfall.

What are my mileposts? I broke my training into chunks. When I saw on my map that I could take it one leg at a time, I was able to grow more sure as I moved forward. Two miles this week. Three miles the next. I could do this!

Where do I rest along the way? Deciding from the start where my breaks would be saves me from running myself into the ground. I get tempted with enthusiasm for new goals which inevitably leads to overdoing and to ultimately giving up on myself. Rather than collapse in exhaustion or injury halfway through, I intend to give myself a break or two.

What is my ultimate destination? Where I want to end is doing what I said I would do. Keeping a promise to myself. Not giving up on me.

For me this was not a race but rather a pace that is all mine. With my map in hand, I could move forward with confidence.

Coach Koenig

Is it time to set a goal for this season of your life? What might it get you?
What is the direction you are moving toward? Where will you start?
How will you take time for rest and rejuvenation along the way?

Susan Ann Koenig is an attorney turned life coach, speaker, and writer. She remains of counsel at the Koenig|Dunne law firm she founded. Susan will be one of our featured speakers at the 2019 Women’s Midlife Reinvention Conference hosted by Your Second Season.