By Gini Cunningham
Dreams rattle through the brain and swirl and twirl and fill with wonder and then the imagination kicks in. Without imagination how can dreams come true? Yes, there needs to be a concrete plan, the designated steps to reach loft goals, but there also must be a smattering of vision and nebulous inspiration and inventiveness to change your goals into reality. After all a dream is not as simple as “Tomorrow I will wash my hair.” This is a routine, something you perform with automaticity. It is also not stating the phrase “I want world peace.” While this is an admirable goal, you have to wonder how realistic it is. The world is enormous, the peoples diverse, and peace hazy and imprecise. Peace includes quiet, solitude, friendly interaction, and a degree of camaraderie. That is a variety all by itself.
So what is your biggest dream? Jot it down so that you can see it, say it aloud, refer to it, read it to trusted family and friends (or maybe just to yourself until bravery invades your soul and you are ready to share), modify it as time rolls on, and courageously keep your dream alive. It is easy to shelve a dream when life gets busy and other responsibilities grab hold. We often think of others and work to assist them while putting our own desires on the back burner to bubble and boil and without due care, evaporate into thin air.
To fulfill a dream, visualize its beginning, middle and end and view it each day to remind of its existence. To breathe life into it create a plan. How will you reach your dream? What steps must you take? What pitfalls might arise? What side tours might you travel? What are potential adjustments that might occur on your journey. It is impossible to troubleshoot every possible issue, but the more detail you add, the more solidified your dream becomes, and the more likely it will transform into reality.
An example of one of my dreams is when I determined to advance my daily run into a half marathon. I had always dreamed (there’s that word again!!) of running a full marathon, 26.2 miles of grueling glory, but I recognized there were steps to get there. To begin I had to accomplish 13.1 miles. Though there were shorter races and the marathon loomed over my head, a half sounded absolutely perfect. I had a solid base since I had been running four or five times a week for thirty years. This routine was engrained as I jogged through wind, rain, shine, snow and sleet, and three pregnancies. There wasn’t a wobble in my base.
After reading several articles on training preparation, I mapped out my mileage plan. I would run at least 3-5 miles Monday, Friday, and Saturday.
Each Wednesday I would add a mile. I had counted back and had 9 weeks until the race, so the first Wednesday was 6 miles, the second 7 miles, and so on until the week before the race when I would run an entire 13.1. While some trainers say you do not need to complete 13 miles to run 13 miles in a race, or run 26 to complete 26 in a race, I prefer to reach the goal prior to the event just so my mind knows I am ready.
The week of the event I cut back to a couple of miles on Monday and Wednesday, and then plenty of rest. On alternate days I walked, took a half-mile swim, rode my bike, or lifted some weights. I was still working out but not running. I checked my shoes for wear and tear; I purchased cushiony socks and layered my outerwear. Training in Nevada can mean snow one day and sun the next, regardless of the season.
Next I looked at nutrition, calorie intake, energy requirements, and food values. Fortunately I have always been aware of healthy eating so I just needed to add extra carbs and protein, especially on “Long Run Wednesday.” I noted my intake and my energy level for the day. How did my legs feel before, at the start up, during, and at the end of my run? How agile and excited was my mind? What conditions potentially changed my training output: slush, ice, high wind, or bright sunlight? How much water and liquid was I drinking?
And finally I needed my cheering section. While my family had always supported and admired my running dedication, my daughter exemplified maximum thrill. She followed my training, checked that I was eating right, determined the closest half marathon, signed me up, got our hotel reservations, and planned our trip. Her excitement amplified my enthusiasm as our team-ship grew.
The evening before the race, Allison selected a restaurant and examined the menu to ensure that the proper sustenance was available. After dinner, we took a pleasant stroll and then she tucked me into bed. In the morning she was raring to go, just as I was. She drove me to the start, fastened my bib, and gave me a good luck kiss. I sauntered to the start, checked my watch, and dashed forward at the sound of the word “Go!”
One wonderful aspect of most half marathons is the cheering crowd along the route. Children offer popsicles, Moms wave encouraging signs, Dads snap photos like mad, cheerleaders strut their stuff. Sometimes live music floods the air, or a guitar might be strummed, or a boom box might thunder. Squirrels dart across power lines; dogs bark “Hello!” and kitties look on with amazement. With all of this reinforcement success is guaranteed!
And then, of course, is the finish line. Music blasts from it and balloons decorate the spot. For me spying my daughter jumping and screaming as I approached and zipped across the finish line added fresh vigor. Volunteers handed me a banana and Gatorade. Finally, to accentuate the fantastic, my medal for my first half marathon was slipped around my neck.
Imagine your dream, plan and prepare, and the reality of that dream is assured.