Throwback Thursday: “Try a little harder.”

If you’re stuck in a rut with your workouts, or anything else in your life, this is the Throwback Thursday post for you. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (well, really just one city away: Seattle), somebody gave me work advice, but it was really workout advice. And it changed my entire year. It might just do the same for you, too. Read on.

“Try a little harder.”

[Originally published on January 30, 2014.]

Yes we can. We can try a little harder.
Yes we can. We can try a little harder.

Three years ago this month, a project manager I was working with gave me the single best piece of workout advice I’ve ever received. He didn’t know he was doing it at the time. We were on a big consulting project for a client and I was preparing a slide deck summarizing research that had taken me the better part of six months to complete. And we were late. Truth was, I was covering for a colleague who hadn’t made time to review the deck on schedule when I told this manager that the deck wasn’t finalized yet. (I’ve since learned not to take the fall for others when they screw up – but that’s another story.)

Here’s what my manager said to me:

“Try a little harder. Do a little more.”

As it happened, three years ago this month I began preparations for my first official Boston Marathon (I ran the race as a bandit back in college in 1993 before the race got huge, and before the era when charity runners could earn their way into the race by raising funds for Boston-area causes). 2011 was my debut year going to Boston officially. And I had already decided I was going to train hard, because I wanted to look like I belonged there.

So imagine my surprise when my manager’s pointed but gentle words – “try a little harder…do a little more” started reverberating in my mind later that week when I was on a treadmill, fighting through a speed session, trying hard to complete mile repeats at a faster pace than I thought was possible.

400 meters down…got it. 800 meters down…still in it. But by halfway through, I really wanted to give up or slow down or walk or do anything other than see this mile repeat through to the end.

Then I heard those words again. “Try a little harder.” Just a little. Stay with it a few seconds longer than you think you can. “Do a little more.”

We make this choice every day of our lives.
We make this choice every day of our lives.

Sometimes, breaking through resistance means just staying with something a little longer than you think you can. I stayed with that mile repeat a little longer – and I did it. Three minutes of rest later, I had to do it again. Try a little harder. If I could do one, why couldn’t I do two? And I did it.

I’m thinking about that moment today because yesterday I did one of those treadmill speed sessions (the rain yesterday in Seattle was cold and dark so I went inside). And it wasn’t easy. I had to try a little harder to get where I wanted to go.

How did my 2011 running season go, by the way?  It was hands down my best year as a runner (so far!). I set huge personal bests in the half-marathon and marathon distances, ran Boston, and did things I never thought this formerly chubby little girl who always wanted to be an athlete could do. Just because a manager told me to try a little harder.

[And back to real time: September 25, 2014.]

Yesterday’s #Every48 workout: Yay for friends who call up or email and say, hey, how about we check out that YOGA class at 8:30 at the local studio? That’s what a friend did for me yesterday, and it was grand. I really needed the quiet, contemplative stretching that particular class provides.

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