I was dropped off deep within the wooded dunes of The Hague yesterday. It was an unknown location to me, and the point of the excursion was to find my way home.
It was about 12 kilometers from my house according to GPS. Seems harmless enough, but when you’re on foot running in hilly terrain where you can’t see that far ahead and the sun is behind full cloud cover, it’s entirely possible to get lost and end up running an extra 3-4 kilometers.
And so I did.
I had to back track on several larger paths that ended up circling back on themselves. I knew the general direction I needed to run towards, so I took a small horse path that seemed to be getting me somewhere. It ended abruptly though, and so deep in the forest that I would either have to turn back again or forge through the brush.
I forged through. I knew if I didn’t, my one-hour run would easily turn into two.
About 45 minutes in, I climbed to the top of a dune to orient myself. I could spot the city’s buildings off in the distance, but I wasn’t yet sure how I was going to get there. A large pond stretched far and wide between me and where I needed to go. I would have to run around that first.
I ran back down and through the forest toward the pond. I wiggled under a couple of wire fences and ran through the deeper brush, soaking my legs and shoes. I ran up and down hills of loose sand. I ran up and down hills of wet moss, slipping and falling hard on my ass.
I finally found a small road, which I hoped would lead me to a more well-travelled nature path. Instead, I ended up at some facility contained by a barbed wire fence. So I ran along the fence until I found another street. Eventually, I could see the buildings of Scheveningen, the beach town connected to the Hague.
I ran toward them.
About an hour and half into my run, I was back in the city, right along the edge of the coast. I was on the home stretch. I could have taken a tram, but I just kept running.
I clocked nearly two hours when I reached my front door. I felt pretty tired. I also felt victorious.
I guess that’s what life is like. We set out to do something and don’t know exactly how we’ll get there, but if we just keep moving forward, we will. We may have to take a few detours or climb under a fence that may or may not be electrical. We may fall on our asses, but if we get up and keep going, we’ll get there.
It reminds me of a lesson I once learned about goal-setting: you can’t just achieve a goal by merely wanting it and expecting that it will magically come to you. You have to do build the characteristics that will allow you to build that bridge toward your goal. If you’re feeling down and out about not being able to achieve a particular thing, do something else that will build your confidence. Doing so will help you preservere with your original goal. It will also just make you feel good.
I’ve been running my entire life, but that was the longest run I’ve ever run, to date. That little excursion was an act of pushing myself, and it’s those little actions that matter to me write now.
The Better Man Projects posted this video this morning that is somewhat related. I thought I would share it with you here.