Keep Your Eyes OFF the Prize

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/3/2013 12:00 PM   :  104 comments   :  38,773 Views

If Cincinnati is known for anything (especially among its many runners and cyclists), it is known for its hills. You can't run, bike, hike or even walk very far in this city without encountering multiple inclines, some of which are very steep! That is partly what makes our Flying Pig Marathon so notorious! When I run outside or hit the road on my bike, there is no avoiding the hills. And while many exercisers despise hills, I've come to accept them—even appreciate them. And no, I'm not a masochist.
 
On my many long runs these past few months (I will be running the Flying Pig half marathon this Sunday), I've climbed a lot of hills and had a lot of time to think about each one.  I've realized that we all have our own hills—in running, in weight loss and in life. Whether a hill slows us down or holds us back has less to do with its actual physicality (or our own) and much more to do with our outlook as we approach it.
 
Each time I reach the foot of another steep hill, I look forward, not up. When I look for the top it's far too easy to feel deflated. That end goal looks so far away and so difficult to reach! I tend to lose momentum and often get side-tracked with negative thoughts about how hard it's going to be. But when I keep my eyes directly forward, watching the ground just a few feet in front of me, it's amazing how my attitude changes. From that view, I can't tell how long or how steep a climb is. In fact, I can hardly even tell I'm going uphill at all. When I look forward instead of up, I maintain speed (and a much sunnier disposition), and I reach the top of the incline almost effortlessly. Only then do I look back and see how far I've really come. And remember: The view from the top is much better than the view from the bottom!
 
While each hill we encounter may feel like a roadblock, it's not. It's a challenge that, while perhaps long or hard, will eventually come to an end. If you keep moving forward, you will always reach the top. If you keep going from there, you will feel wind and gravity carrying you with speed and ease to the bottom. And once you're on a flat again, you appreciate it that much more. You harness that momentum from the downhill and keep pushing forward.

Eyes forward, I approach a hill like I would any other goal: one step at a time. Your goal may be big: to lose 100 pounds, to run a marathon, to pay down a large debt. If you only look at the end goal (the summit) from where you are now (the foot), it's easy to feel discouraged. But when you break it into smaller steps and keep your eyes focused on what you can do right now in this moment, the top doesn't matter anymore. All that matters is the next step you take.
 
Trust me, no one sets out to run a marathon thinking, "I am 26.2 miles from the finish line!" They take it one step and one mile at a time. And if you plan to lose 50 or 100 pounds—or whatever you goal—the worst thing you can do is focus on how far away that end goal is.
 
Break it down:

One step.
One minute.
One mile.
One workout.
One choice.
One bite.
One meal.
One hour.
One day.
One week.
One pound.
 
As long as you're moving forward, you will eventually reach the top.
 
Sometimes getting there will be labored, long and challenging. But it is the nature of any hill or challenge to make us stronger in body and in spirit. Every hill I ascend makes me appreciate the descents and the flats that much more. Hill training makes you stronger and faster when hills aren't present because everything else feels so much easier. Each incline I climb gives me a chance to push through a challenging situation (one that—let's be honest—I'd rather avoid) and build not just leg strength, but character as well. It makes you proud. It makes you realize that if you can do this, there is no limit to what else you can achieve.
 
Bring on the hills.





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Comments

  • 104
    Excellent. I love the breakdown and I intend to use it. Well said. - 6/20/2014   2:48:24 PM
  • 103
    LOVE this! Saving it to reread when discoyragement threatens to creep back in. - 5/29/2014   11:01:55 AM
  • 102
    Great blog Nicole! Thanks u r AMAZING! - 3/4/2014   4:02:23 PM
  • 101
    I really needed to read this today, thanks for posting - 11/10/2013   2:38:28 PM
  • 100
    Thank you so much. That is very inspiring. - 11/10/2013   4:12:29 AM
  • 99
    Thanks so much! This is a very helpful analogy. - 6/26/2013   5:35:04 AM
  • SKINMINA
    98
    Nice reminder.... - 6/13/2013   6:04:33 AM
  • 97
    i tell people this all the time take it step by step - 6/2/2013   4:00:15 AM
  • 96
    Thanks for a very inspirational blog. You said it so directly that it is easy to understand. I love that we need to Break it down:

    One step.
    One minute.
    One mile.
    One workout.
    One choice.
    One bite.
    One meal.
    One hour.
    One day.
    One week.
    One pound.

    That makes our goals so much easier to do. - 5/27/2013   1:51:24 PM
  • CELINE5927
    95
    or to make fitness workout, make your fitness equipment : secrets-of-a-frenchwoman.blogspot.c
    om/2013/05/make-your-fitness-equipm
    ent.com - 5/27/2013   8:22:08 AM
  • 94
    Thank you, Nicole!
    This blog is going in my "Treasure Box" where I'm gathering my favorite blogs, tips, articles, recipes, uplifting quotes, etc. I reach into this virtual box whenever I am discouraged.

    Oh, and the part of your blog that reads...

    "Break it down:

    One step.
    One minute.
    One mile.
    One workout.
    One choice.
    One bite.
    One meal.
    One hour.
    One day.
    One week.
    One pound.

    As long as you're moving forward, you will eventually reach the top."


    Well, I'm going to make that into a motivational poster with your name on it.

    Thanks again! - 5/27/2013   7:32:27 AM
  • 93
    Very helpful ideas on how to stay motivated! Thanks. - 5/9/2013   9:14:53 AM
  • 92
    Loved this blog. I always look at weight loss two pounds at a time. If I look at the "big" number I get overwhelmed but two pounds at a time is very attainable.

    - 5/8/2013   7:36:05 PM
  • 91
    Love this article, thanks! Its inspired me to reset my weight tracker, and to run more hills! - 5/8/2013   12:25:58 PM
  • ROBBIEY
    90
    One step at a time to conquer anything is the sure fire way to accomplish goals and not stress about them. - 5/7/2013   5:12:09 PM
  • 89
    Super analogy, and congrats on your run! - 5/7/2013   7:32:26 AM
  • 88
    Thank you this can help! - 5/6/2013   1:56:50 PM
  • 87
    A seriously awesome blog. One of the best I have ever read on SparkPeople. Thanks so much! - 5/6/2013   12:38:38 PM
  • 86
    This echoes a favorite motivational saying I have:

    The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time! - 5/5/2013   11:39:12 AM
  • 85
    I totally needed to read this today! Thanks for the inspiration and motivation. Bring on the hills! - 5/5/2013   8:14:47 AM
  • CESMANO
    84
    Bring on the hills! What a great thought, Coach Nicole! Thanks for your inspiring words! - 5/4/2013   10:37:43 PM
  • 83
    I really appreciate this article. I copied the Break It Down section and am printing it to keep in multiple places for the wisdom and inspiration it provides me. Thank you. - 5/4/2013   7:01:35 PM
  • LIVELYGIRL2
    82
    This is one of the best articles you've written. I like it and thanks! - 5/4/2013   11:43:09 AM
  • 81
    Just what I needed today! Keeping moving to the top of the hill, fast or slow it doesn't matter! - 5/4/2013   6:51:48 AM
  • 80
    Oh! I love this! I know how to do this in lots of parts of my life but right now I'm working on a fitness challenge and I'm just beginning to incorporate the "eyes forward" attitude as I strive towards it. Funny how it takes a while, sometimes, to see something's transfer-ability. Now, when I'm working towards my new fitness goal I'll think if you and remember - one step at a time. Thanks! - 5/4/2013   6:05:11 AM
  • 79
    Yet another recycled item....maybe Spark People need more bloggers or just ones who have the time to attend to their blogs...or at least allow us points for them, since many are recycled from articles published on the site a few years ago....

    Kind of telling when a "new" blog post can have more that 20K views in a couple of hours - 5/4/2013   1:27:45 AM
  • BEJOYFULL
    78
    Yes! Bring on the Hills!

    Your story is a reminder of the joy one has in overcoming obstacles one step at a time; one hill at a time; focusing on the now; finding joy in accomplishing the goal.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. - 5/3/2013   6:12:26 PM
  • 77
    thank you - 5/3/2013   5:58:55 PM
  • DELLMEL
    76
    Thank you. - 5/3/2013   5:07:01 PM
  • 75
    Thank you. I remind myself of the small changes I make and try to keep my focus positive. Some days are more challenging than others which makes me appreciate articles like this. - 5/3/2013   2:11:00 PM
  • AUNTWILLIE
    74
    Very well said. - 5/3/2013   1:39:25 PM
  • 73
    Thanks for posting this, it was a great motivator. - 5/3/2013   12:56:07 PM
  • 72
    Great advice, as always. I'm beginning to like running hills--do it enough and it begins to grow on you. Looking just a few feet or yards in front gets me to the top. See you at Flying Pig! - 1/17/2013   8:58:43 AM
  • 71
    Loved this blog! - 9/7/2012   7:39:44 AM
  • 70
    Great blog! - 4/23/2012   10:27:19 AM
  • 69
    Thank goodness I read this blog. I'm running the Flying Pig, too, and I spent a good chunk of my Sunday staring at the map and layout of the race course, agonizing over those 4 miles of nothing. but. up. hill. I don't think I've done quite enough hill training, although I've done much more than I did for my previous HM. I get pretty nervous about it!! So I'll be taking this blog to heart when I run that race. I can't hit mile 6 and think, "well, the next four miles are going to be agonizing." I have to think, "just one more minute" until all those hills are done.

    The best part is that even if I do keep my eyes OFF the prize, once I hit mile 10, I get a sweet reward anyway -- the last 3.1 miles are downhill! - 4/18/2012   8:46:54 PM
  • 68
    Love this blog! Not only did you help me get through the hills in my neighborhood as I run but other obstacles in my life. I am planning to share this with my Financial Peace University group. So many feel hopeless when they begin, hmm, like I do with my weight loss, but by completing one step it is amazing what we can achieve. I needed this article. :) - 4/18/2012   3:17:35 PM
  • LREIGLE
    67
    Thanks for sharing, enjoyed reading! - 4/18/2012   3:15:45 PM
  • KATHYJ727
    66
    I will add my thanks to the many others! My scale has been stuck for a few weeks (maybe it's broken??). I have lost inches, my clothes fit better, I feel better, I have more energy and yet I get stuck on the fact that the scale doesn't move. Baby steps. Consistency. Positive decisions. One at a time. Got it. - 4/17/2012   10:46:04 PM
  • CIRANDELLA
    65
    All it takes is a baby step, really. But consistent baby steps...every day...and always forward. - 4/17/2012   9:19:55 PM
  • 64
    I love it!! This was GREAT and SO TRUE!! We have to press on to the goal - but I too have discovered not to look up at the hill when I'm biking. I usually keep my eyes on my front wheel and keep peddling. If I look ahead and see where I have to go yet I start complaining - but just taking it one rotation at a time eventually gets me up the hill without a major back and forth dialogue going one within my brain!!
    - 4/17/2012   3:19:02 PM
  • MAGIE40
    63
    I love this blog. so true one thing at a time. - 4/17/2012   2:44:13 PM
  • 62
    This is SO true. I have to share when I first started walking, there is a hill .4 miles from my house. I would walk to it, and back several times, but not go down it because I did't want to climb back up it. Then I would take so many steps down, and increase that number each week until I finally made it to the bottom. Walking up it again (at 290lbs) was worse than I expected. I had to stop to catch my breath. I wanted to cry when I looked up to see how far I still had to go, so, I closed my eyes, concentrated on my breathing, and counted steps. When I approach that hill now (50+lbs lighter) I hardly know it's there. Some days I turn and take the bigger hill for a better workout. But I still think sometimes that if I hadn't closed my eyes I might have just let that hill defeat me. - 4/17/2012   1:57:20 PM
  • 61
    Just what I needed today! - 4/17/2012   1:06:21 PM
  • 60
    I've definitely found that breaking things down into mini-goals is the best way to go.

    Right now I'm nearing the end of my weight loss journey, training for a half-marathon, and trying to pay down debt. If I only looked at the big picture for all those things, I'd give up right now! But focusing on one half-pound at a time, one long run at a time, one payment at a time has made all the difference. Then I can look back at my progress every month or so and marvel at how far I've come. And I definitely look forward to the celebration when I reach my ultimate goals! - 4/17/2012   10:51:37 AM
  • 59
    THANK YOU! I needed this today! ONE thing at a time! Got it! - 4/17/2012   9:40:16 AM
  • 58
    oh my goodness! i love this: One step.
    One minute.
    One mile.
    One workout.
    One choice.
    One bite.
    One meal.
    One hour.
    One day.
    One week.
    One pound.

    GREAT blog post - 4/17/2012   9:11:10 AM
  • 57
    That was a very good message. When we look at the big picture, the big number, the end result, we can get overwhelmed and feel like it's just too much and we just can't do it. But if we break that big goal up into smaller, more manageable pieces, we can succeed--at anything.

    How do you eat an elephant?

    One bit at a time! - 4/17/2012   8:22:40 AM
  • 56
    Very motivational ....Thank you!!!!! - 4/15/2012   10:10:34 AM
  • 55
    This is one of your most awesome blogs yet!!! I LOVE IT! - 4/14/2012   12:56:38 AM

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