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I am just over a month away from running my first marathon. My ability to finish the 26.2 miles is largely dependent on finding a pace that I can sustain for the long haul. If my pace is too fast, I will burn out; too slow and I will underperform. The challenge is to run the fastest possible pace that is sustainable from the first step to the last.

From a training perspective, I now work on a couple different things during the week. The first is distance. On my long runs, I focus on being consistent mile after mile. I keep my pace constant.  I work on building the endurance necessary to keep running for a long period of time. The second factor I work on is speed. On my short runs, I try to go faster. Getting through 3 or 4 miles a little faster than in previous attempts.  Focusing on further and faster – combining these two elements is making me stronger and more capable of accomplishing my goals.

Working on further and faster can lead you to wonderful places. When I started this journey, I had no intentions of running a marathon. In fact, that thought would have been completely absurd to me.   I was just doing a walk run program so that I could get into better shape. I was a stagnant object trying hard just to move. My pace started with 4 minutes of walking an 1 minute of running. My pace was based on the simple desire to be able to sustain a 30 minute run after a few weeks of training. A very modest goal and a very humble pace led me to move on to doing something a lot bigger. A year and a half after starting my run-walk regimen, I am now boring people with my blog posts about marathon training. Newton was right. An object in motion tends to stay in motion.

The concept of pace doesn’t just apply to running.  I believe it can be applied to all of life. Where do you want to go in your life? How far away is that place from where you are right now? Can you get there in a reasonable amount of time? Do you have the endurance necessary to sustain your pace? What can you do to go further toward that place each day? What can you do to get there faster? Once you get to that place, where will you go next?

Want to have 1,000 connections on LinkedIn to people you have actually met in person? Well, that is going to take some time. You are going to need to get out, meet people, and make real human connections. You are going to need to learn how to communicate with people, network effectively, and incorporate following up with people into your every day routine. You may choose to add 10 connections a week for 2 years to reach your goal. However, maybe once a month, you might try to see if you can add 20 in a day – a pace that might not be sustainable the long journey to 1,000. Still this exercise will make you better at the goal of 10 per week, as you get more comfortable with the process. Endurance and speed combine to increase your pace and get you to your goal.  Further and faster.

Whether you are trying to learn to ride a bike, play guitar, understand technology, land a job, learn a new skill, play a new sport, write a blog, be a better listener, or do just about anything else imaginable, the concept of pace is important. Distance is embodied by the long journey that you are embarking upon. The goals you set. The hours and hours of practice, pain, and persistence required to get where you need to go. Speed comes from the skills you pick up along the way. The individual “to-do” items you work on to get things done.  Day by day you complete these things faster, allowing you to go further.

Remember that wherever you want to go, it is going to take time to get there. Pace yourself. Step by step you will build endurance and speed and move ever closer to where you want to go or better yet who you want to become.