For you newbies to this journey running thing, you are now a week into your trek. For many of you that week has only carried you from the start at the tip of the state, and around on the Arkansas levees to Memphis.
That can be a little psychologically intimidating. After all, most people think Memphis *is* the southwestern tip of the state, and here you have had to trudge a marathon worth of distance, just to get there!
Looking at that map, with your little dot still almost touching the place you started. That can also be discouraging. If it helps, this is one of the realities of journey running. Every journey runner feels the same thing. It just doesn’t seem like you are getting anywhere until you get out of the shadow of the start.
But, if you are going some insane distance (for example 1000 kilometers), the scale of the map makes it look like you are still at the start for a long, long time.
I will share another little journey running secret. All this does later is make it really feel special as those daily increments add up and suddenly you see space between you and the start. All you have to do is keep a steady state. Go out and add your miles day by day. And you will see that space open up, and open up…. until one day you are way out there on the map.
It will mean so much more because you have worked for it.
Later. Weeks, and months from now, when you are far across the map, there will be a deep sense of satisfaction as you look back over how far you have come… one step at a time. It will be an achievement built on all the days you did not want to go, but went out anyway. Miles that you did when it was too cold, or too rainy, or too hot and the sun was beating down. Miles that you did when everything in the world conspired to keep you at home. But, somehow you found a time to squeeze in at least a few miles.
Great accomplishments are not built on dramatic moments, but on small moments. On consistent work. On sticking with the task. It is slow,sometimes tedious, sometimes not fun, work. Dirty. Sweaty. Hard.
Movies spoil us. A movie about your journey would have a 30 second video; clips of you out on the road in various cool places, dirty and sweating, set to dramatic music. Then they would spend 30 minutes on your final stretch into Buckeye Hollow and across the finish line. Maybe for effect you would fall mere feet from the finish, and it would spend 10 times the time allocated to the actual task on your dramatic rise to your feet to go on the last 10 yards.
In Real Life, Great Things are made of 99.99999% hard, dirty, tedious work. The finish is over in seconds. It is fleeting. Sometimes anticlimactic. Even if you shed tears of joy at having made it, the moment is short. The satisfaction of what you have achieved is what lasts a lifetime. The same amount of time regret over having given up will last.
Great things are not accomplished in dramatic moments. You add one more brick to the wall when you put on your shoes and go out the door today. and start that second week.
Of course, the object here is to give also practical advice. Soon it will be time to pass along some pointers on how to get your mileage up without breaking your equipment (and your equipment is your body!) Those of you who did not start out able to do 5 miles a day, but have had the courage to keep tacking on the miles you can do. We will look at how you begin to stop the slide off pace, and then hold even, and finally start cutting into that deficit. So that one day you can look at your projected finish, and instead of “No Finish” there will be a date (August 31).
Instead, today seems like a good time to talk about taking care of your feet. Is it ok if I brag a little here? (It doesn’t really matter what you answered, I am going to do it anyway). During my transcon I went more than 3,300 miles in 4 months. More than 5,000 km. During that trip I had not even one blister. My feet did hurt. Actually, I had numbness in them for over a year afterwards. But, you are not going far enough to have that problem. Your biggest threat is blisters, and maybe some foot pain, because they are not used to this kind of a workload!
The secrets to foot care are nothing magical. Consistency is the key. Pay attention to them every day. Do you have callouses? You don’t want callouses. They are not strong points on your foot, they are potential sources of trouble. I take care of mine the easy way. (mostly mine form on that vulnerable place, the outside of my big toe). I rub them together while my feet are wet in the shower and the skin is softer, and let them sand each other away. Not all at once, but a little at a time, so i dont expose sensitive flesh! I do not care for the mechanical devices to shave them off. It is too easy to go too deep.
You want the skin to be supple and soft. Like a baby’s feet. If the skin is dry and rough, use lotion on them. If you end up having to spend a lot of time in the rain, or for whatever reason, with wet feet, watch that the skin does not dry out and get that parchment feel to it. Lotion again. And rubbing it in can double as a massage to relieve the soreness of unaccustomed work.
Keep the nails trimmed. Not so deep that they bury themselves in your toes, but not sticking out where they will cut into their neighboring toes.
Do not wear uncomfortable shoes. Not just for your miles, but any time. When I got comments for wearing running shoes with suits, i just told people; “My feet have suffered enough.”
Get some comfortable house shoes, and don’t walk around barefoot on hard surfaces. Your feet have a difficult existence. Treat them good. Because unhappy feet are not good team players. If they complain all the time, it is going to drag you down.
Just like the journey itself, don’t expect instant results. But, if you tend to your feet every day, as the trek goes along they will slowly turn into the healthy, happy feet you always wanted.