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January 2, 2022

The promise of stretching is not success, it is learning

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.

I love a big shiny goal. Something to push through my comfort zone and learn about myself. Achieve something new, where I need to practice and work through some mental and, when necessary physical, hurdles. Set smaller milestones to keep my focus and make the big shiny goal realistic.

It is what I do; In 2020, I travelled to my 90th country and ran my 3rd marathon; In 2021, I published my first travel memoir, hiked the highest peaks in Scotland and England, and ran my fourth marathon.

After asking that question, “What is my number one goal for 2022?”, and waiting patiently for the answer, the answer finally presented itself. Of course it did. It felt like I fell over the answer as it floated in front of me waiting to be found, to take the courageous action.

My 2022 now has meaning and purpose. Hurray. I found my 2022 goal.  A new big shiny goal that is in equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. For the last month, I’ve been pondering on what would be my one thing. I’m training for the Paris Marathon in April but marathons don’t pique my interest like they used to. I’m not scared of it like I used to be. They are still a little scary but a ‘I’ve got four marathons under my belt so calm down’ scary.

As for my travelling, I have a list of countries and adventures I want to experience. But, due to the ongoing pandemic, the travelling game is very much ‘be patient and wait’ then book last minute.

How did I find my new goal? I heard it come from within. Something I told myself back in 2019 “I want to run an Ultra for my 40th” suddenly gained my focus. It felt sudden, but actually on reflection, it has been a future goal since 2019. I think in 2019, the year 2022 was so far away.

Since 2019, I have observed myself feel pure excitement when listening to people’s experiences of running Ultras – either on podcasts or documentaries.. Each month my running magazine arrives and there’s usually an epic Ultra story which has me gripped.

Did the version of me back in 2019 think I would actually sign up to a 90km run? No idea, but once a seed is planted it grows into what it needs to become. And that seed grew.

In 2020 I researched this ‘run a marathon for my 40th birthday idea’. I always thought it would be in South Africa running the infamous Comrades Ultra, but because of the pandemic, it felt like that wouldn’t be an option. Then I found a Scottish Ultra that runs October, my birthday month, but that was that. Nothing more happened.

Then 2021 arrived and over Christmas I told my wee sister and her partner about my 2019 plans for 2022. All this was stirring something in me. I looked up the Scottish Ultra again and when I saw the digits 90k, I thought it was too much.

Technically, an Ultra is any distance run over 42km (the marathon distance). 90km seemed a bit much. I might have even mumbled “I can’t run that”.

And that’s when I know I need to do it, just go for it, sign up and figure it out. And that is what I am doing. I let go of my first Ultra being the Comrades, I have zoned out how much dedication, focus, time and pain this will require and I am only pumping ‘ You are a strong and sassy marathon runner who can run 90km”. Gulp!

I now much prefer the story where I’m running a 90km Ultra Marathon on my 40th birthday weekend, starting from my home city, Glasgow, to one of my favourite capitals in the world, Edinburgh. Yes to that!

I read a quote recently which I am a little obsessed by ‘The promise of stretching is not success, it is learning’. Whatever happens, I am going to learn a ton and for that, I am excited for 2022.

To produce moments of self insight, we need to place ourselves in new situations that expose us to failure. What is the worst that could happen as I look an Ultra marathon head on? I am sure I will find out in 2022.

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Jacquelyn Armour  |  Contribution: 7,135