We all know life can be challenging. In these past few months, we have all experienced even greater challenges - greater worry, greater stress, greater concern for our family and friends. For the past 22 years, I have used running as my escape, as my time for prayer, as an opportunity to reset my mind and as a challenge I can continuously work to improve. I have learned more about myself and life from running than I have from any class or any textbook. Running has taught me to have discipline to keep working at something hard,even when I didn’t feel like doing it. That skill was helpful during long days and nights of studying in dental school. Running has taught me how tough I can truly be but has also humbled me to a crying heap on the ground. Running has provided me medals, accolades, confidence, moments of heartache and even lost toenails. Yet recently, running has taught me something even more.
For the last several years, my spring and summer have been spent training for triathlons. However, with the inability to train for the swim portion, I decided to train for a half marathon (13.1 miles). When training, I always set my watch to beep every quarter of a mile so I can check my pace. With a half marathon goal of one hour and 27 minutes, my pace for one quarter mile was almost exactly 100 seconds. This meant that, for hundreds of miles of training,the only thing that mattered were those 100 seconds.
When running as hard as you can for an hour or more, it is impossible to think about anything except running. There is no time or energy to think about small daily worries, Presidential elections, riots or a global pandemic. The only focus is taking the next step, the next breath, getting through the next 100 seconds until that watch beeps again. Then do it again. And again. And again. This time running has taught me something more. Running has now taught me to take challenges in life one at a time, to take life 100 seconds at a time.
Training for a half marathon helped me through the pandemic. It forced me to compartmentalize my life. To approach each day, each moment, 100 seconds at a time. Manage one thing at a time, think about one thing at a time, worry about one thing at a time. Getting out of my mind and into my body for a period of time everyday and forgetting about the stresses of this pandemic helped me keep my problems in perspective.
In the end, all of my hard work paid off. I ran a half marathon by myself at the end of June and beat my goal time and old personal record by over two minutes! A small victory in the grand scheme of things, but I’ll take everything I can get in the middle of a global pandemic. As challenges enter your life, I encourage you to face each problem one day at a time. Take the hard steps, even when you really would rather not. Take the time to learn something about yourself. Take the time to find a small victory or two along the way. Take life 100 seconds at a time.
Cheers to dental health,
Dr. Cliff Moore