Sometimes I find myself privileged to receive exactly the right words of encouragement at exactly the right time, and because I spend WAY too much time on Facebook and the internet these days, it should come as no surprise that this is exactly where the latest heart-tugging message presented itself.

Earlier today (the ever-so-glorious hump day that it is), a friend of mine shared a very simple, yet poignant picture in my half-marathon training group. Layered over the picture were these exact words:

“Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.”

The day before, I had had a particularly bad 16-mile run (which was completely stupid because just the week before, I ran over 16 miles and had zero issues...nay, I felt great!). She shared this message after I told her about the horrors of Tuesday’s run because it reminded her of me in my peril.

And I found that really touching and encouraging.

Because even though I pretty much died that day, my friend was kind enough to remind me that the important thing, the only thing that mattered, was that I kept pressing onward.

And honestly, those words align themselves with the message that I am constantly pushing on myself: to just continue taking steps forward, no matter how slow or how small, because that is the only way that you are going to make progress.

I tell myself this on EVERY run I embark upon, because, let’s face it, every run is hard. Every run requires a certain amount (okay, a rather large certain amount) of sheer will and determination to complete.

But isn’t that pretty much every day life? I know it is in my household. And I have found that the only way I can make it through is to remind myself of those very words: “Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.”

I love those words not only because I can relate to them in a literal sense, but because they are absolutely brimming with positivity. And the very same positivity that I try to focus on daily, particularly in the moments when all patience and hope is lost (if you have kids, you know that such moments are inevitable...and if we’re honest, I think we’d agree that more often than not, patience is probably the one that gets lost the most).

It’s positive because in that simple phrase, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts. Regression simply isn’t an option. It doesn’t exist. Failure isn’t failure. It’s just another step forward toward my destination, my goals, my dreams.

It is so easy to become discouraged, to let our minds play games with us, and in doing so, we turn an already difficult task, into a near impossible one. But herein lies the true test. Do we push passed the emotional turmoil and complete the task anyway, even if we don’t complete it well, or should I say, as well as we hoped? Do we choose not to tear ourselves down just because we didn’t perform to the standard we had set for ourselves or to the standard we had previously achieved? Or do we give up and call it quits before we even give ourselves the chance to see what may have come from our efforts?

No, I say we roll with the punches, learn from our mistakes, and try to do better next time.

I didn’t want to do that run on Tuesday, and I knew from the start that mentally I was going into it at a disadvantage to where I was the previous week. But I still did it, and despite the fact that I didn’t do it well, and I ended it sucking wind and nearly passing out, I’m still really proud of myself for what I accomplished that day. Because despite the fact that it was a physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing run, I still finished. And that’s worth something.

It’s worth something in that I learned a little more about myself and about what I need to do to prepare myself for that, and more, in the future.

I’m not looking back, because that’s not where I’m going.

P.S. I am hereby declaring that a 16 mile run (and anything longer, for that matter) can no longer be considered a “workout”. It’s FAR more spiritual than physical at that point ;P