I leaned against the check-in desk in the foyer of the fitness center and scratched the back of my right ankle with the toe of my left sneaker. I chatted with Lisa, the front desk attendant, about holidays and work and weather while waiting for Jessica – the fitness trainer – to appear.

I had a blister on my ankle.

New York City Marathon Jessica came around the corner, all tall and willowy and fit and trim. She was smiling.

I barely let her get to the desk before I blurted out, “I want to run a half-marathon. Nothing crazy. Just the half.”

Jessica said, “Hmmm.”

“I need a goal,” I said.

Jessica said, “Hmmm.”

She pressed her lips together and twisted her mouth to the side. Then she exhaled, smiled, tipped her head to the right and asked me, “Are you a runner?”

I thought to myself: Does that really matter? But what I said was, “Well…I can run. I ran a 5K once.” I didn’t think she needed to know that had been nearly two decades ago, long before my age began with the number four and ended in something higher than five.

“And how’d that go?” Jessica asked. She was still smiling, but now I think she was smiling at me – just on the safe side of laughter.

Seriously. Does that really matter? I thought. But what I said was, “I had to sit down by the side of the road in the middle of the race.”

Jessica said, “Hmmm.”

Then she said, “Well, you need to have a plan if you’re going to run the half.”

A plan? “Ri-i-i-ght. A plan,” I said.

Filofax Malden, edge-on

Then, Jessica broke it all down for me. She said that before I even started training for the half, I needed to be able to run a certain amount of miles. Was it three? five? eight? They all sound the same to me.

I needed to be able to run those miles all at once. Without stopping. And that was just the beginning.

Once I got to the point where I could run all of those miles at once, then I could start training for the half – and I needed to train for at least four months before the race!

I guess my inward thoughts were written across my face (they show up there sometimes, you know) because Jessica stopped short, took another breath and said, “Why don’t you come with me?”

So I followed Jessica back to her office where we spent the next half hour mapping out a plan for me.

To train for a 5K.

The next day found me back at the gym, on the treadmill. I had just popped my earbuds in when who should appear but tall and willowy Jessica? She was smiling. Again. (Or maybe still.) I tried to go unnoticed, hiding behind the giant display panel on the massive treadmill. But Jessica’s a trainer. It’s her job to see people like me.

She waved and asked, “So, you’re giving it a try?”

“Well, let’s just see how this goes,” I answered. I tried to make myself small behind the treadmill’s digital display.

Jessica climbed up on the cardio machine in front of me and then looked over her shoulder and right into my eyes. “Distance first. Then speed, ” she said. And with those two short sentences, I think she just may have saved me from disaster.

Because we big picture people want it all and we want it now, don’t we? We don’t always consider the many steps it takes to reach a goal.

If Jessica hadn’t been there in all of her willowy glory, I probably would have cranked up the speed on that treadmill to some ridiculous number, worn myself out in two minutes flat, and given up on the whole idea. But those two sentences rang in my head for the entire twenty minutes it took me to run my little 1.5 miles.

I was pleased with myself. Motivated, even. And in that moment I realized that I wasn’t ready for the “all” that we big picture people crave.  Not yet. I needed this one little piece, first. This accomplishment. This is what I could handle right then. This is what fit. This was something I could build on.

“Distance first. Then speed.”

Now it’s your turn…

What big pictures do you dream this year, and what’s the first step in your journey?

By Deidra Riggs, Jumping Tandem

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  • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura@Life Overseas

    Loved that line:

    Distance first, then speed.

    Since so often I shoot out of the gate, all enthusiasm and high-expectations, and then run out of steam all too quickly. I am learning that your trainer was right, sometimes the most important thing is survival and being faithful and not quitting– even when it seems small and “boring.”

    Great encouragement!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      The small stuff does seem boring sometimes, doesn’t it?
      And not quitting? That’s pretty big stuff!

  • Lisa H

    Big dream for this year? Not to panic at each and every bump in the road that comes my way. How will I accomplish this? I hope I am able to stop and breathe and in that moment consider all the things God has pulled me through just in the last 12 months. I’m not overly ambitious in my thinking because I know I WILL still panic, its in my wiring and re-wiring a 40+ yr old will take some time I know. But I will try.

    My other big dream/goal for this year is similar to your post. I am signed up for a mini triathlon with about 5 or 6 ladies from work. This takes place the first wknd of June this year. I’ve not been in a gym for a year to exercise–going for kids swim lessons does not count! But each component is managable if I think of it that way. 250m swim, 7 mile bike, 2 mile run/walk. My goal–to finish, not win a prize.

    Now if I can get motivated to actually GO to the gym………
    Lisa

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      It’s hard not to panic. I get that. But your strategy sounds good: stop and breathe in the moment, and look back at what God’s already done.

      And a mini triathalon? Girlfriend! My goodness! Bless your heart! I am here – cheering you on!

    • http://www.christdrivenmom.blogspot.com Margie

      praying for you Lisa! You can do it! You will do great! Keep your eyes on the prize! That prize is Jesus! He will bring you through it, and during those times when its hardest, He will work on you in ways you never knew!

  • http://kendalprivette.blogspot.com/ kendal

    great insight into how we accomplish. yep. got a big picture. write another book. problem? it has to happen one piece at a time. if i don’t write the pieces, i won’t have a book. duh. so i end up reading and writing blog posts. and reading novels. because it seems too hard. perhaps i need to work on distance instead of speed.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      Writing a book is a big deal, my friend. And even those little pieces can be broken down – first a sentence, or a word or a thought.

      It will happen. Baby steps.

  • http://fraukmwest.blogspot.com Kathy

    I love those words Distance first than speed! MY Journey is realize it is a journey and it will take time and things may change along the way. I want to be the best I can be ….what that is I hope to find on the journey! xo

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      Love this goal! Realize it’s a journey and accept that things will change. Change is going to happen, isn’t it? No matter what. So why not just accept it?

  • http://www.imperfectpeople.net Katie @ Imperfect People

    I plan to be more INTENTIONAL. Not just having good intentions but going the extra mile and seeing them come to be.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      That’s something us big picture people are good at – dreaming big dreams. Then, we get overwhelmed when we realize just how big our dreams really are. Just keep taking one step at a time. One little baby step after the next…

  • http://www.christdrivenmom.blogspot.com Margie

    My girlfriend and I as running a marathon (I walked/ran the half last year) to put our faith into action by raising money for clean water for Africans (our goal is to raise $100/mile each). I’m scared and excited, but I know that God lead us to this, so He will lead us through it! Seems crazy good sometimes and crazy scary others.
    But I feel like I’d run to the ends of the earth for love, so a marathon is a good start!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Margie, you make me smile! Such big goals for such a big God!
      Picture a giant, virtual stadium wave happening right here at (in)courage just for you and your girlfriend and your big-hearted, bold and brave marathon running selves!

  • http://lovemygr8life.blogspot.com/ amanda

    My prayer for this year is that the Lord uses me in a mission trip to Haiti. It’s in my heart. God must have put it there. I took the first step, and this may sound silly but I completed the application for the trip. So often I think and think and pray and pray about something and then am disobedient. Not this time. My first step started with putting my name on paper.

    Great post, it definitely aligned to where I am at today… Blessings!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Amanda-

      I once heard a speaker say that feeling compelled to do something is an invitation from God. Isn’t it cool to think that you’ve been handed a personal invitation to join God in sharing His love? I hope you’ll let us know how things progress for you. I’d love to know what happens next, now that you’ve completed that application.

      It’s God who gives us the desires of our hearts.

  • http://raisinpraise.wordpress.com Rose

    I totally admire you in your 5 K ambitions!
    Distance first than speed…..love that line! Gonna use it sometime. Maybe today. First to myself and than maybe to my child or my friend.
    Thanks for your email! It made my day!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      It’s a good line to remember.
      And to pass along.
      And to just keep repeating as the miles click away under your feet.

  • http://recoveringchurchlady.blogspot.com Susie

    This was a wonderful post. My goal, and I seldom make real goals, is to earn $ by writing. I have a book started but need lots of freelance things also. My small and successful step was to begin a new blog dedicated to that target. It’s working!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Wow! Good for you! A small and successful step is a great encouragement!

  • http://www.myletterstoemily.blogspot.com lea

    this is a great and analogous post to my life. i do want
    to go the distance, but sometimes it just seems easier
    to quit.

    your encouragement came at just the right time.
    thank you!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Now there’s the key: quitting just SEEMS easier.

  • http://www.findmeinseptember.org erinbeth

    I loved this! (You’re writing is wonderful, by the way- like a comfortabl conversation) As I was reading I decided I’d send a link to this post to my husband. He’s a photographer and I’ve watched him work so hard for five years to maintain and grow his business (while working a full time job). I get impatient. I believe in him. He’s REALLY talented. But, sometimes I blame and point my finger at him, making it all about me. I want more time with him, I want to not talk about photograhy every second of the day (which isn’t true but sometimes I exaggerate to make a selfish point), and I want him to be successful (which really just means supporting our family). But reading this, I saw him sitting in his office for hours on end- working on distance. The speed will come later. My dream is for him to reach his goal. Not only so he can support our family and we can adopt, but because God’s given him a gift. Today, I’ll thank him for being smart and working on distance- even when I’m impatient. Thanks!
    (www.chrismichaelphoto.com)

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Oh my. Ms. Erinbeth. This comment of yours takes my breath away.
      I hear you.
      And I get you.
      I read your words and I understood what you were saying and then…you included the link to your husband’s work and I was just undone! (The picture of that baby sleeping on the big beige chair just knocks my socks off!)
      Your support of your husband is big and so very sweet.
      Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t right and good, my friend.
      I’m praying for you.
      I’ve been where you are.
      It’s all good.
      Really.
      It is.

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

    Distance first, then speed. I am tucking this into the back pocket of my heart for safe keeping. Thank you!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Good! Hang onto it, girlfriend. I may need to call you one day so that you can remind me! :)

  • http://www.iowaponderings.blogspot.com Nancy Jensen

    Great blog. It is so true of many of us that we want to accomplish something so we throw ourselves into it with gusto for about a week and then fizzle.

    To break a big goal into small steps that build on each other to your ultimate success is wonderful advice. Congratulations on making the commitment to running a 5k.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, Nancy! Here’s to not fizzling!

  • Margaret Stephens

    PERFECT!!! Especially since I just agreed to run/walk a half in September! Baby steps, Bob! So, my short term goal is run 5K and go from there. Distance…distance…distance….Trying not to think about the time. Just go the distance – in so many ways, my running has mirrored my recent life events and, as I have learned to run, I have learned more patience and the importance of going the distance instead of burning out at the beginning. Running has nurtured my soul.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Right. Distance first.
      We can all worry about speed later.
      For now, let’s just keep on keeping on to see what the end will be.
      You can do it!

  • Beth Williams

    Thank you, thank you, thankyou!!! That is exactly what I needed to hear at this juncture of my life. I, too, would like to be a runner and never thought about distance first then speed. It was always speed first for me.

    It is also refreshing at this time of year to think of tiny steps to a big, huge goal (new job, house, home renovations, etc).

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      That Jessica is a wise woman. Don’t we always go for speed? And then we miss so much along the journey…

  • http://deepintolove.com Craig

    Your words interlace in a delightful fashion. As a former trainer I have been part of this scene as it unfolded a thousand times. You have painted it perfectly.

    And then the subtle opening of wisdom, “Distance first. Then speed.”

    Always want to be “there”, but you have reminded, I can’t be “there” without being “here”, first. This year, for me, is enveloped in journey, within, without, and through.

    First steps already well under way,
    bumps already encountered.
    blessings? Boundless.

    And thank you for this – distance first, then speed.

    God Bless and Keep you and all of yours.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Thanks, Craig. And always…Jesus goes ahead of us.

  • http://www.iliveinanantbed.blogspot.com I Live in an Antbed

    You are so adorable! And this is profound on many levels. It is so easy, as a big picture person, to allow the real scope of a goal to gut the process. As a mom, I have to help the kids understand the importance of the vision, but also the nitty-gritty of breaking it down into wise, realistic steps. Because in the discipline of working through those steps, the true character is not only revealed, but also built (if it’s done well).

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      You raise a good point, my friend. The whole idea of doing it well. I wonder how that will translate for me in this lofty goal of a 5K? Will it go well, or will it just…go?

      • http://www.iliveinanantbed.blogspot.com I Live in an Antbed

        I have no doubt it will go well for you because of your character. Regardless of what the stopwatch says, I will say, “Great job!!” Because it is all the stretching that bears the fruit in our spirits.

  • http://www.lifeastwo.blogspot.com Thelma

    My big picture is, coincidentally, the same as yours… to run a half marathon. Run… walk… same difference right?

    The first step: putting my shoes on.
    I’m more than a little nervous.

    But distance first, then speed. A new mantra!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Yes! I agree! Running. Walking. It’s all the same when you’re talking about 13.1 miles, girlfriend!

      And here’s something I tell my children: sometimes excitement feels like nervousness. Maybe you’re a little bit of both?

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn

    I am so near the finish with several things and have an eagerness to catapult across, but having coming such a distance I don’t want to botch up the ending and strain a muscle that puts me out of the prize I seek, to finish well. It is one thing to have patience when passion is high, at the start, but to have the same patience and commitment on the the 3,000th step as on the first…..is really something. But I have decided and recommitted. I am in it for the long haul. Go for it, Deidra!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Marilyn!

      Wise as always, you give me something more to consider in this goal of mine. Finishing well…as opposed to just finishing. Although – in this instance – finishing, for me, might mean that all is well.

      But you make me think about life. And finishing it well. All the way through the 3,000th step. Good words. As always. I love it when you show up!

      • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn

        Sorry for the tangent, Deidra, but your words – excellent – sent me there. Good post!

  • http://www.nebraskagraceful.blogspot.com Michelle DeRusha

    I am smiling and smiling (just like Jessica, although not as willowy!) — I just love, love, love this post, Deidra! It’s so real and true, and it can applied to just about every challenge, every facet of life. I am your biggest fan — cheering you from the sidelines in ALL your big-picture projects this year, friend!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      You are my margin friend, cheering me on. I can feel it. All the time. Truly. And I’m grateful for you, my dear, sweet willowy friend. : )

  • http://entrustedtome.wordpress.com christy

    again…yourposts always touch my heart…my goal is the same although less ambitious…more like a 5k….but really…it would be awesome to just create the habit of running….thanks for sharing….

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      “…to just create the habit…”

      Something about those words really and truly sings to me. Maybe it’s the idea of creation…participating with God in something. What a lovely way to approach this…

      Thank you.

  • http://www.momssharpeningmoms.com Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms

    Oh, Deidra…this is one of my most favorite things you’ve ever written. I’m a big picture gal who also likes to crank up that treadmill so I get it done fast, fast, fast! Then I fall flat on my face a few minutes into it and wonder why I’m burned out and tired.

    Distance, then speed. What a lesson for me!

    Love you to pieces!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      One day we must have that cup of tea together! Maybe I’ll even invite Jessica!

  • http://www.kellysauer.com/ Kelly Sauer

    Sigh. I cannot even begin to say. Just, whatever I do, I want to take it slow. So far, not so good… :-P

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      You know, it’s never to late to go slow.

  • http://thecupcakesprinklesinlife.com Rachel

    A friend and I have a big project in mind- we’ve started working on it… baby steps!

    Our goal is to do it right, for HIM…. like you said- keeping the distance in mind, not the speed!

    Thanks for the inspiration! Ps- How is the training going? I would like to run a big race for my MIL who has an aggressive form of Breast Cancer. We’ll see! :)

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      Just one step at a time. The speed will certainly come along as we keep going along. As for me…the training is still going. It’s slow, but I keep adding distance and that makes me smile.

      I’m praying for your mother-in-law.

  • Rachel

    You have no idea how much I needed to hear this. I want to jump headlong into something, but I gotta take baby steps. Thank you!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com deidra

      There’s a story in the Bible where Jesus tells us to be sure we count the cost. I think that’s some of what these baby steps allow…a bit of time to count the cost. Baby steps are good.

      • Rachel

        Again, you have spoken to the heart of my situation, without even knowing it. Thank you, for your wise insights, and for living so close to God that you can speak just what I needed to hear without knowing me.

  • http://amylsullivan.blogspot.com/ Amy Sullivan

    Oh, I do have a big goal. Initially, I thought someone should just drop my dream on me. I mean, I have only wanted it FOREVER, but as time passed I saw the reason I didn’t “get” my dream is because I wasn’t ready for it. Am I now? I’m not sure. I’m still taking those small steps, but I think I’m getting closer.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      We were made to dream big dreams. God-sized dreams. Dream on, sister! Dream on!

  • http://livingthebalancedlife.com Living the Balanced Life

    This is awesome. I am working to get physically fit. I began back in November by challenging myself to just get my tennis shoes on in the morning. After a few days of that, I said- just walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes, which I began to do, at a nice little stroll. I didn\’t get it everyday, but as time went on, I walked more days than not. Now I am up to 35 minutes of hills/speed at least 5 days a week, plus I do 20 minutes of yoga/pilates 4 to 5 days a week. All from putting my shoes on! Baby steps! Now I am working on another big picture, building a business out of my blog. We are in week 1 of an 8 week Journey to Balance. I am writing my first e-book, and will be creating online workshops and do coaching. I am taking the babysteps here as well, but I have to make steps each and every day!
    Bernice
    Who controls your to-do list?

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      Wow! What an inspiration! Congratulations to you!

  • Cat G.

    Love this. I’m all about big picture, right now. I set my mind on something and I want it NOW! This very lesson is what God has been trying to teac me all year (I think, hope?). Thanks for the reminder, and the mantra!

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      I want stuff now, too. Drive up windows, microwave dinner, instant oatmeal, instant messages… They make me want everything fast. But God wants me to be patient and still so that I can hear His quiet voice. He wants me to go the distance with Him.

  • Angelina

    Distance first….then speed. THANK-YOU! I am NOT a “real” runner. I just finished my second half-marathon and am training for my third. I am not concerned about my speed….but endure “ribbing” from my “running” friends. I am pleased with my pace…but am trying to improve.

    I want to tell you…that YOU CAN DO THIS!!!! I am excited with you…..and can’t wait to hear about your journey.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      Not a real runner? Headed toward your third half-marathon? Oh, girlfriend, I beg to differ with you. If you’re doing all of that running, I think you’re a real runner! I am grabbing on to the encouragement you’re giving me! Thanks!

  • http://splashinggrace.blogspot.com Courtney

    This is the first year, in a long time, that I’ve set goals. I’m excited! Small goals, large goals, fun & serious, short term and long term. And this post was perfect for me – remember distance first, then speed – I’ll get them done, but I don’t have to do it all today. Thank you.

  • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

    We certainly don’t have to get it all done today. Great reminder!

  • http://holley.dayspring.com Holley Gerth

    Deidra, I read this (while on my exercise bike, ironically) wrote a comment to you in my head and just realized I never posted it! How’s that for being big picture and missing a few details? :) This was so encouraging to me. I’m right there with you, girl.

    We go to a church that happens to be really huge. I interviewed one of the pastors and asked him, “Tell me about some big ways God came through for you as the church grew?” He paused, smiled, and gently said, “You know, I could probably think of a few but really it’s about small steps and daily faithfulness.” I’ve never forgotten that. And you reminded me of the same sweet truth.

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      Rich words from your pastor. Great truth there. I’m so glad you remembered and shared this with us!

      Now…about reading on your exercise bike. How in the world do you do that? I’m sure I’d fall right off the seat!

  • http://thesavingmomparents.wordpress.com thesavingmom(jessica)

    I am printing out those words and putting them up on my reminder wall. This is such a great post! Thanks ~Jessica

    • http://www.jumpingtandem.com Deidra

      A reminder wall? That sounds like a great idea!

  • michelle

    This came at just the right time. God knew our family would need it. Needing distance before speed, even in the unexpected. Unexpected passing of my grandpa into his eternal home. Unexpected diagnosis in my 9yo nephew of a brain tumor. Unexpected brain surgery on the day of the funeral and hearing the news of cancer. As my nephew progresses in his therapy and medication adjustments, we are all reminded to take baby steps. From point A to point B, no matter how fast we want to get there. Each and every accomplishment is great! The speed is God’s healing is not our own, which is why we must endure the distance, in order to win the race.

  • http://arock4him.blogspot.com/ Amy Hunt

    Deidra, I was reading through some of your blog posts after you commented on my guest post today, and I’m enamored by you. Truly. :) You’re a gem. Reading your words, I can almost sense your intended voice inflection and being with you feels comfy, like a warm cup of tea. I run. Nearly every day. I have for 19 years and that sounds crazy for someone who is only a bit over a decade more than that. Running itself can be such an analogy for so much in life and I especially love how your post here grounds us to remember “distance first then speed”…one thing at a time, I tell my six-year-old boy, as if I’m the one who really needs to hear that. Writing is my new baby step…I’m a big picture person and want to know “what do I write about?…what will it involve?…what kind of a writer am I?…what will I DO with it?…what else?” For now…it’s one word at a time. One blog post at a time. One letter. One comment. But slowly, over time, one foot in front of the other becomes a steady jog and then a cadence develops that creates an unimaginable rhythm. We’ll see what becomes of it…just like my continued running, I feel like it’s a “have to” for me – have to run because it’s “my outlet” and have to write because it’s like water to my soul. Thanks for sharing such truth. (oh, and by the way, I so much loved your post about eggs on your own blog…really.)

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