Finding Your Own Stride

I had been in training for several months to walk a marathon on October 1. I’d set a personal goal to complete the marathon at a rate of 4 miles an hour. Over the last couple of weeks, as I was doing the longer and longer distance walks, I found that I was getting joint pain in my hips and my knees. I started to think, “What’s this? I’ve been walking for years, and I’ve never had this kind of pain before.” I began to worry, “Oh my gosh, what if I can’t go the distance? What if I can’t do the 26 miles?”

Last week as I completed mile 10 of my final training walk, I suddenly realized that I was so focused on making sure that I did a 15-minute mile, that I was increasing the length of my stride and slightly leaning my body forward. I thought, “What if I stand up straighter and shorten my stride?” As soon as I did that I felt so much better. I realized that I had been so focused on completing on time, that I’d forgotten my natural gait, my natural style, my natural stride.

Two days later, on my next walk, the miles flew by as I returned to my own natural stride. There was no pain. And I still walked the 15-minute mile! I was relieved and thrilled.

I can only get there doing it my way. Trying to do it someone else’s way just doesn’t work. Returning my attention to what worked for me made all the difference. Once I stood up straight and shortened my steps, ease returned. I was gliding along, it felt good, I was breathing.

What’s your unique leadership stride? When you’re in it, you’re gliding along, you’re breathing, and you’re pain-free.

Think of a situation that’s troubling you, where you’re feeling some pain. Are you so focused on the outcome that you’re doing something that doesn’t feel right? Something that doesn’t fit in your natural style? Something that feels hard? Are you getting ahead of yourself? Is there some way in which you’re not really being yourself?

Try this; ask yourself one or both of these questions:
“What can I do to make this easier on me?”
“What can I do that fits my natural and true style better?”
Just look for one small step and give it a try. Let us know how it goes!

By the way, I completed my Marathon-all 26.2 miles of it-in just seven hours and eighteen minutes. Were there moments of challenge? Yes! But the great news is this: I reached my goal by doing what worked for me.