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Personal Best

Recently I started running.

I have never been really interested in “running” in my life. Previously I had only considered running valuable if I needed to run away from something or someone, or if I was playing in a soccer game. In those cases, there was either a utilitarian purpose to running or a recreational one.

A few months ago, I was talking to a good friend of mine about his journey as a runner. He told me the story of how he started running: he just started off by running five minutes, and every day he increased his time running by one minute. Eventually he was able to run a 5k, followed by a 10k, followed by a half marathon, and now he has run many marathons! He once told me, “It isn’t about how far you run, or how fast or how long. It is about achieving yourpersonal best.’”

The idea of ‘personal best’ struck me as a meaningful philosophy for not just running, but all of life.  So, I made it a goal to live every day to my personal best.

For me, achieving my ‘personal best’ manifests in all aspects of my life: in my professional life, my academic life, and my personal life. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I always succeed, or that every day I am operating as my best-and-brightest self (though I hope most days I am). What it does mean is that in every situation I try to do the best that I can for what I am capable of in the moment. [*]

[*] That doesn’t mean I don’t still make mistakes, the goal is to learn from them so I can be wiser the next time!

I have been doing it pretty well in my professional life, I think. I work hard, I support my colleagues, I stand up for things that I believe in, I keep a positive attitude, I learn from every professional development challenge I face. Every day that I wake up for work I am happy because I believe that, in my own small way, I am an advocate for kids who are facing some really daunting emotional and mental health challenges. This job — and the great team I work with — are a personal best for me.

In my academic life, I am going to be striving for my personal best to finish my exhausting thesis and my MA!  Once I finish that, even if I never go on to a Ph.D. program, I will still strive for continued personal bests – even if it is just learning a language or acing a math class.

In my personal life, it seems harder to be strive for ‘personal best.’ I have taken up running, and it is really nooooo easy feat to transition from “non-runner” to “runner.” This morning, with the encouragement of Marathon Friend (mentioned above), I ran 2 miles!  In the morning! And tomorrow we are going to run again, until I can enter a 5k, then a 10k, then a half marathon. (Marathon Friend is training for another marathon, of course.)

This brings me to my next point.

Personal best is about surrounding yourself with people who support or inspire or push you to be your personal best. For me this is a host of people. My mom, of course, who encourages and inspires me every day. My brothers who, without fail or complaint, always offer to carry my heavy loads. And my great friends — new and old — who support me and cheer me on despite my silly antics, my crazy schedule, and my hair-brained schemes (like my mission to eventually run a half-marathon). For me, personal best also means being compassionate and respectful to others, even if you feel they don’t always deserve it. It means showing love and gratitude to my friends and family, and telling them warmly and often just how much they mean to me.

I have also learned that I want my next relationship to be with someone who I can be my ‘personal best’ with — and someone who I can support to be their personal best too. This, I think, was missing with my last relationship (though my former beau did make me a better and kinder person in so many ways, for which I will always be grateful.) I know he and I are both moving on from our relationship to find that person who will be “our personal best.” It isn’t about how fast or slow you find the person, or how far you go, it’s about not stopping the run until you find your personal best.

My question to you, Adulthooders:

In what ways are you striving for “personal best” in your lives? When is it easiest (and hardest) to be at your best?

Ruminations on these questions, or any other thoughts, are welcomed in the comments!

*Photo via Hiddenloop on Flickr.

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2 Responses to “Personal Best”

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  1. Nicole says:

    So well-written Marz!! This was such an inspirational read! xo

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