Sometimes You Gotta Dream Big

The back of the shirt pretty much looked like this. Image via livinganlie.deviantart.com.

I remember the shirt for the quote and the way it fit so perfectly tight. It was one of those high school track shirts with the motivational sayings on it. On the back of this particular shirt it read, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” So according to the shirt, if I set my running goals high and shoot for a 14:39 5k and miss, I’ll at least land among 17:00 5k territory, right?

I’ll never admit this out loud, but when I’m running smooth, in a state of flow, I believe for a few quick minutes that I can run a world record. Or in the Olympics. Or at least professionally for Nike. I have even been quoted as saying that you can do anything you put your mind to. And really meaning it.

But I know the odds of me breaking out and joining the upper-echelons of running stardom are slim to none. And the reality ends up being perfectly demonstrated in an internet meme.

Overused internet meme that you were probably sick of seeing 2 months ago. Image via ragetrolling.com.

But what does it hurt to dream big, really big? The Salty Running manifesto even implores us to do it and to push the envelope and dream even bigger than we feel comfortable dreaming. Despite being what I think of as a realist, I find myself dreaming big. Whether it’s due to being a fan of the sport for so long or just being raised by a dreamer, I can’t help myself.  Maybe it’s just all the Olympic mania going on right now, complete with an overabundance of upbeat commercials about following your dreams. Whatever it is, I probably wouldn’t be as motivated to get better if I didn’t allow myself to at least go to this fantasy place every once in a while. Or at least twice a week. Ok, once a day.

I’ve been stuck running the same times during the last 10 years, largely due to inconsistent training and a hyper-sensitive body and mind, but I still feel compelled to chase my dreams. Now, I’m at an age where it’s more normal to be married and have children than not. Sometimes it even feels expected. Granted, many women everyday are pulling off intense training with raising families (like our own Salty and Mint), but for me, I worry succumbing to societal pressure to join the ranks of my peers starting families will derail my pursuit of my big dreams. Call me selfish. I’ll admit it and I surely admire the women out there doing it all. But I’m not ashamed to say that I can’t don’t want to do it all right now. For me, advancing my career as a therapist and committing to better training is what is in my current ten-year plan. I’d much rather put my energy into helping others the best I can (career) and into training my butt off at levels I never imagined (running) instead of planning for a wedding or picking out registry items Babies R’ Us (I can’t even get to thinking about maintaining a marriage, being pregnant and raising kids!) It helps that my boyfriend, and unofficial training partner, also has similar goals and opinions about this stuff.

The 2009 Akron Half Marathon kickstarted my running rebirth. Since then, I’ve been riddled with injuries but have learned a lot from every one of those mishaps. Most important? How to listen to my body.

Thoughts like these haven’t just been passing thoughts either. They’ve been hiding in the back of my mind for quite some time. But as I’ve reached some career and training milestones in the last few weeks, I’ve become more than willing to accept the challenge of not only dreaming big, but pursuing those dreams. I’m ready to commit to foam rolling every night. To calling it a night before last call. To making sure I pack my lunch in the morning so I’m not starving at 3pm. To building my mileage as safely but as much as possible. To trying to eat better while making sure I eat enough. To getting quality sleep with a consistent nighttime routine. To testing my limits at least once a week . And lastly, to never be afraid to dream bigger. Because even if goal A doesn’t come true, goal B just might be what I needed on this journey to success.

And just to prove that I’m not the only one who dreams really big, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite big dreamers and doers:

Billy Mills. Mills went into the 1964 Olympics as an unknown. He shocked the field and took home the gold. Words cannot communicate how inspiring Mills’ story is so check out the video of the race to get inspired!

Mills and the Olympic glory. Image via wikipedia.

Ariana Hilborn. Hilborn ran her first marathon in 4:40 and it was just for fun. Well, fun for her turned into a 2:37 marathon at this year’s Olympic Marathon Trials. She also recently moved to Michigan to train with the highly respected Hansons-Brooks team. What started off as just a fun activity, turned into something bigger than she ever thought was possible, at least in the beginning of her training.

Hilborn looking mighty strong! Image via arianahilborn.com.

Weldon Johnson. The co-founder of LetsRun, Johnson was a self-proclaimed mediocre runner his senior year of high school. He then walked on to the track team at Yale University. But it wasn’t until after college when he decided to train harder, yet smarter, and finished 4th in a US championship 10k race in 28:06.

Weldon sporting the coveted LetsRun singlet. Image via letsrun.com

Pepper and Rosemary. Our very own Pepper and Rosemary have been known to dream big and make things happen. They both went from mid-pack marathoners to a 2:49 and 2:53 marathoner respectively, not to mention 5k times that went from well over 20 minutes to multiple sub-18s! I couldn’t be more inspired and honored to share my experiences along with these two big dreamers!

Pepper triumphantly crosses the line of the 2010 Columbus Marathon in a huge PB.
Rosemary shooting for the Olympic Trials Qualifier last fall but landing on a huge 2:53 PB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How big do you dream? Do you believe that if you work hard enough, you can do big things?

 

I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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9 comments

  1. This is a great post! All along my running journey I’ve struggled with this. I never really dreamed big for myself. I dreamed big for Pepper and could see her going for it back when she was thrilled to run sub 20 for her 5k. I could really do it for anyone, but myself. I still struggle with it – now it’s hard to shoot for the moon since I’ll have my third kid in 4 years in a few months! But I think it’s an excuse. It’s like I struggle to believe enough in myself and love myself enough to put my money on me! So, when I’m back to training I will push myself to dream big. Despite all the excuses laying at my feet I will dream bigger than I’m comfortable dreaming. Who knows what I can do if I actually believe in myself (not sure I ever really have before)!

    1. Thanks for sharing. I would have never thought you didn’t believe as your feats speak volumes as well! Looking forward to more training with you!

  2. I ran the Cleveland Marathon in 2011, basically just to finish and say I have ran a marathon (4:33 was my time). Last year at this time, I was running with my training partner who put a bug in my ear to try & run another marathon, in which she believed I could ran fast enough to qualify for Boston. I immediately thought & said there is no way. I just did not believe I could run a fast enough pace for 26.2 miles. Well, after a hard training season I did just that. I ran Cleveland this year in 3:36:07, giving me about a four minute buffer below my qualifying time (along with ALOT of help from your very own Salty)!! Dreams can come true. I cried like a baby when I crossed that finish line. Doing so well in Cleveland this year has given me amazing confidence. I feel like I can tackle much more, and do it well!! I hope to run a 3:30 or better at Akron this year. I also have a goal of a sub 20 5k on the horizon:)! I am definitely not an elite runner of any sort, but for a full time working Mom of four, I think I’m doing pretty well!!

    1. Great job, Michelle! That improvement is impressive. Sounds like you are on the right track to even faster times….inspiring!

  3. Ginger, I had that same shirt! I begged my mom to order it from the Eastbay catalog. I really like this post and learning about Ariana’s story. I think it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and sell yourself short. Thanks for the reminder to dream big!