I ran (jogged) my first 5k in November. I had participated in one other 5k event in my life, but this time, I didn’t stop to walk. I kept moving, which was my goal.

While I would love to report that I’m now a runner, sadly, this event did not create the habit (mainly because I didn’t love it…but that’s a topic for another day…)

The experience of running this 5k really stuck with me.

Primarily because it sucked. 

Now, hear me out…

In August, eleven weeks before the event, I started jogging with the Couch25k app in preparation for the 5k. To help keep me motivated throughout my training, I intentionally ran on trails, either in my neighborhood or on the many trails in Austin. I was committed to the goal of jogging the entire 5k and knew that I would enjoy the process more if my runs were in places I enjoyed. I built a playlist of songs that I loved and helped me feel inspired to move!

Then, on the day of the 5k, I arrived at the abandoned-looking small-town convention center both nervous and excited.  Now imagine with me:  

Running (jogging).
Through a parking lot.
Around an abandoned-looking building.  
On asphalt in need of repair.

And just when you get around the abandoned-looking building, you notice that you’ll be doing switch-backs THROUGH THE DARN PARKING LOT.

For all of the beautiful places in Austin, this was possibly the least appealing place they could find and our route back and forth ensured we saw this ugly spot from every angle. 

Right before the start of the race, I discovered that my playlist wasn’t working. I had been counting on that to keep me moving at a good pace and keep my mind occupied. Without music, I could only focus all my attention on how hard it was.

Uphill and downhill I was navigating the switch-backs and cursing the person who designed this “course.”  Four times we switched back. Then we made a right at the port-a-potty (I’m not even kidding) and then took the biggest hill of the course before crossing the finish line.

I didn’t stop the entire way. I felt a wave of pride as I crossed the finish. I hugged my friend Carmen who stayed with me through the course. I wanted a trophy but settled for a selfie.

It was then that I realized:  my journey to get to my first 5k was so much more beautiful than the actual 5k. 

I had purposefully sought out beautiful and new places to keep me engaged and motivated. I had asked for friends to join me on jogs and help me build my playlist, important support as I moved towards my goal.

In short, I focused on enjoying my training and the process.

And it made me think…

Wouldn’t that be great if you could seek out the most beautiful path along the way to your goal?  What if all your choices were about enjoying the process as much as you can?

And then, if the destination isn’t all that pretty or rewarding (or you decide maybe you aren’t a runner after all), you can be reminded that the PROCESS was worth it.

What about you?  Is there a goal you are moving towards but would like to find how to enjoy the process more?  Hit reply and let me know.