It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop.
A friend of mine recently told me how he got tapped last year on the shoulder to run in the New York City Marathon by Robert de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Foundation. He’s over 50 and had never run in a marathon before, let alone a 42km one in NYC. He trained for months, running 35km around the lake almost daily through winter. And then he went for it.
There comes a time in any endurance sport when it takes almost more mental than physical strength to keep moving. Most runners in these marathons start to unravel around the 30km mark. He started to come undone at the 35km point, buoyed the extra 5ks through adrenaline, perhaps. The crowds at this thing were just phenomenal, the energy of the spectators, of the runners around him like nothing he’d experienced before. But the last 7km were sheer torture; he was starting to hurt. And yet he kept plodding. The thing, he told me, that he was chanting the entire time in his head: “It only takes a moment to quit. But it’ll be a lifetime of regret.”
He ended up beating his Personal Best.
Momentum is a lot like that. It can take ages to build, and then even more effort to maintain. Great habits and routines can be a slow build, but it takes freakishly little to break them too. And yet nothing quite matches the satisfaction you get when you look back and think, “Oh yeah… can’t believe I’ve been doing this for ages now!”
If you’ve stopped before, start again. And again. And again. And if you’re still going — even if you’re moving at a snail’s pace — keep on keeping on.