My 635-mile virtual race was on life support. Three months of effort and 415 miles of running were spent in what was beginning to look like a failing effort.
I needed a new strategy. My pride had kept me afloat, but I was noticeably drowning in the Dip. I had 31 days and 220 miles to go, nearly double the 118 miles completed the previous month. Adding to the challenge, I made my schedule harder. My solution was a constant and visible tracking system to create a motivation snowball.
First, I needed a realistic target. Shooting for 635 miles was so far outside the realm of reality that I failed to get locked in during the previous months. I was aiming for 35-mile weeks, but without an effective tracking system, there was no immediate consequence or sense of urgency. The duration and number scale were simply too large to gain a real sense of progress or urgency. In the final 31 days, I needed to focus on the smaller and extremely specific 220 miles. Everything before or after was irrelevant.
Then I created a visible tracker. Starting with 220 miles, I created 31 spaces to mark the number of miles remaining each day. The board was posted directly beside the desk where I work every day. It would serve as a constant reminder of the work to be done. As momentum built up, it provided encouragement to go running in the torturous summer heat.
Then tracking daily progress was key. Every day I completed miles, I crossed off the prior number of miles and updated the next day with the new lower number. Every subtraction made the end goal seem increasingly possible. Progress became an addiction. The countdown reinforced a sense of urgency as I only had so much time to get to 0. The low mileage days became fuel to go further the next day.
31 days later, I crossed the final 6.35 miles off the board. I was done. My identity as a finisher and a survivor was reinforced, along with my confidence that I can persevere through whatever comes next. This experience has provided a strong lesson for the value of tracking progress with realistic targets, visible reminders, and a sense of urgency to motivate me through the challenges ahead.
Cover Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash