Runnning and Raking

Posted on December 6, 2010


Sunday morning I took advantage of the relatively clear weather here in the Pacific Northwest. I finished raking my yard. I started over a month ago, but then my back started acting up and then it snowed, and I was trying to win National Novel Writing Month…

After several days of weather with no rain, and lots of sun in the middle of the day, I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer and I got to it. As a runner, I expected that I would get winded early on, and then catch my breath and go on. It would be the raking equivalent of that first half to full mile of any run, when you’re still warming up and all the voices in your head are getting louder and louder, telling you to stop.

Sure enough, I got to the first landmark in the yard – the maple tree in our back yard – and I wanted to stop. I knew that I had more energy and could keep working, I just didn’t want to. That’s when I remembered another lesson from running. When you run, you can’t think about how much distance you still have to cover. You should only think about what you’ve already accomplished. At the start, you think about all the training you’ve done to be ready for that day. In the middle, you look back at how far you’ve come. Only when you get very close to the finish line do you start psyching yourself up to the kick – the final sprint to the tape.

So instead of looking down the hill to what I still needed to rake, I looked up the hill at what I’d already accomplished. I felt a swell of pride. I was doing well. There wasn’t all that much. I really was getting closer and closer to the leaf pile at the bottom of the yard. I kept raking. Running gave me a tool that I could use in other areas of my life to accomplish worthwhile goals.

I was a little surprised to find out that I’d worked 90 minutes straight through, but our yard is raked. Now it can snow all it wants.