I was out running two weeks ago, tapering down for running in today's Pilgrim Pacer Marathon.
The run was a regularly scheduled out and back, 7-miler all in, a few hills (yes, there are hills in Iowa...). I was hoping to make it a negative split. Make the back half about 2-3 minutes faster. An old route. I know all the seams in the concrete sections, the places where the concrete has broken and crumbled from too many ice storms and too many trucks hauling either livestock or grain.
It just was not happening. It was a slog. The adrenaline and endorphins stores must have been depleted or they were on strike. Either way, they weren’t contributing. Legs were tired. Heart rate was ten points above average.
This isn't anything new for me. Runners among the readers will shake their heads and thing Yeah, been there...Many times I’ve started a run, ‘not feeling it’, but after ten or twenty minutes the bones are warm, the legs loose, breathing and heart rates say ‘thank you’ as the endorphins and adrenaline kick in. Runners among the readers will shake their heads and thing Yeah, been there...too.
Not that day. And as I hit the second mile I knew, well, this was going to be a slog. This was a blue-collar kinda run, one foot after the other. Keep. Moving.forward.
Do you ever have days like that at work, at home? It’s just not happening. There are no opportunities that day; there’s only obstacles. There’s no creative insights, no innovative solutions arising, no aha’s in meetings as a collective rush of endorphins and adrenals kick in. Or so it seems because for us, inside our heads, it’s a blue-collar day. We’re slogging away, cogging our way, cogs and cubicles in a machine. On those days clients, co-workers, bosses...they’re like hills and winds rising up to taunt us, always in our face. Coffee doesn’t work, nor do carbs and desserts.
But like the blue-collar run, we have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, finishing one routine task after the other, trudging through one more Monday morning sales meeting, one more weekly report.
Sure, we have to.
But, that’s where the rewards are earned; on these kinds of days. The blue-collar run, the blue-collar day, is the foundation for those successes and achievements and accolades, personal or public, where solutions appear to come easy, meetings flow with great ideas and smiles and excitement; execution flows smooth and easy, around and over all those boulders that once stood in our way. Our colleagues are brilliant; that’s why we wanted to work here and are so glad we do. Our bosses are encouraging and supportive; maybe they are all the time. But after slogging through those blue collar days when we’re not feeling it and it ain’t happening...maybe we finally emerge through the clouds and see it; maybe they see us, too.
This isn’t earth-shattering to read or to share. Ok, for someone in a world of 6 billion, maybe this is earth-shattering. It's a reminder of one simple, obvious truth(?) we can forget when the legs grow tired and we're still miles from home or the mind is dull and the back aches and if we have to go to one more meeting....
It’s my story that might resonate with a few, reminding me mostly, that, success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Some days, most days, are blue-collar days. They’re the price of admission into something better, bigger, grander. A day or two where smiles are the currency and the product and everyone’s buying. We put one blue-collar day after another until we get there.
That’s what I did that cold, windy, day running past fields laid bare with giant combines whose cabs are protected from the wind, heated, radios playing, air-cushioned seats...one foot after the other. No the split wasn’t negative. It was a positive split of thirty seconds. But I finished. And on another run I’ll make that negative split. And when I face another blue-collar run, I’ll know what to expect that day and in the future.
Blue or not, have a great day!
PS: Thank you Peter Engle for sharing that phrase, and many miles, with me many years ago, maybe twenty years ago now. All the best.
PPS: Here's another inspiration to help you through those blue-collar miles.