Two Ways to Run Towards Your Potential


I was fueled on two hours of sleep when I ran my last leg of the Ragnar Road Relay in Colorado. It was about 9:00 in the morning, and the sun started to warm the day from balmy to hot. The support van drove by and yelled, "Go, red rocket!" (my shoes, shirt, and hat were all red ;-). The previous day, I explored 10.2 miles of the Colorado Rockies in two separate runs. The third leg was a 4.7 miler.

My feet found a strong rhythm with the pavement, and my focus went from a small circle about four feet in front of me, to the broad open countryside near Carbondale. My breathing felt more strenuous and my legs were confused by the excessive use. I was definitely on the tail end of my physical capability.

But I kept moving. 

One step at a time.

Which is kind of silly, right? I wasn't running from a threat. This wasn't "exercise." Walking was absolutely an option, and no one would really judge me for doing that.

So why continue to, not only run, but to run faster than I had the previous day?

Two answers came to mind: community and accountability.

Our relay team was made up of 12 individuals split into two groups of six. When you spend 36 hours in a van full of sweaty people, you become quite close. No doubt – a tiny community was born. It felt so good to cheer and encourage every one of those people on their runs. And it felt so good to be cheered ON by those same people on MY runs. We believed, collectively, that we would all do our best – to realize our full potential and to reach our goal. And if something slowed that down, like an injury (which happened to one person), we did everything we could to make that person comfortable, encouraged, and supported. And what's more, other runners stepped up and happily ran in that person's stead, pushing one runner's total milage past a marathon.

When we are part of a COMMUNITY that believes we're capable of doing our best, that energy rises us up to face any challenge and treat it like an opportunity.

I (hesitantly) committed to be part of this team to replace an injured runner about two months before the race. Once I was on the roster, commitment and accountability blossomed. The collective goal was to run 200ish miles as a team. Accountability, in this case, was a no brainer. If I didn't contribute my ~15 miles, then, as a team, we wouldn't reach our goal. Others depended on me to succeed, just as I depended on them.

Sometimes, we try to be accountable only to ourselves, or we leave ourselves "outs" and say things like "if I don't do this thing I want, then no one will really notice." These are the kinds of limiting thoughts that can hold us back.

But if we push past our limiting thoughts and express ourselves in a way that is unique by being ACCOUNTABLE, we can contribute to something that is greater than the sum of its parts – something bigger than we could have imagined.

So, my parting questions for you are...

  • What community are you a part of (or have been a part of) that would cheer you on and (optionally) give you a cool nickname?
  • If you don't have one, how interested are you in being in such a group?
  • What would it take to create a group or be added to an existing a group?
  • What would you be willing to contribute and be accountable for to grow the power and potential of everyone in the group, including yourself?

Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.” ~ Les Brown

Tommy AciernoComment