Visuals and Perseverance

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Diane Johnson
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Diane Johnson

Diane DeMasi Johnson is a freelance writer. You can find her latest story in the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions, out September 22. She began running as a means to keep her mind focused and her body healthy. She loves the accomplished feeling a run provides and the renewed stamina to keep up with her 14-year-old twin boys on hikes.
Diane Johnson
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At the beginning of this year I set a goal: I will run the 2016 Seattle Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. Yes, the race is in June. Yes, I do plan that far in advance.

In January I printed off a calendar page for each month through June 2016. This visual has given me hope and driven me harder than if I had a drill sergeant at my side. These pages are solely for exercise/ health. I mark when I run, when I strength train, When I dance, or when I do yoga. I see how much progress I make and I want to continue. I see white spaces and I feel they taunt me – “Diane missed a day, nananananana.” Grrr… must not miss more.

I started the year off right (I was coming off an exercise lull so for me that means starting off with low miles and working my way back up). All was progressing smoothly until mid-January when I tweaked my back. That sidelined me longer than I expected.

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But I didn’t stop. I kept up with my back stretches and every time I thought I was feeling better, I tried to exercise. Anyone with back issues knows, movement is better than rest, so I kept at it. That drive gave me a February that looked like this:

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I am proud of that month and the determination to keep reaching for my goals. I could have quit, frustrated that I wasn’t where I thought I should be at this point. But I didn’t. I slowly increased my mileage. I slowly increased my pace.

Then April happened:

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Yeah, that bad. Frustrating as all get up. However, I acknowledged that life isn’t always accommodating and gave myself a pat for effort since I snagged bits and pieces of time here and there. May and June were on par with February and in July I not only increased my mileage to three plus miles per run, but I hit my best pace per mile to date.

I never gave up. I fell off the wagon, but rather than lie there and get trampled by the horses I clutched the bottom of another wagon and pulled myself back up. And that’s how we all meet our goals. Not by being perfect. By not quitting. By acknowledging that life has obstacles and detours we must take. By tackling those challenges and getting back on track we don’t lose sight of our goals. Sheer determination is the mother of all success stories.

What visuals have you used for motivation? And what was the biggest revelation you discovered from those?

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