SEVENTEEN: MIDGIT DIGITS!
Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
Buddhist Proverb

As I reach the half-way point in any marathon, I am physically certain there is no way I can cover that distance again. Experience reminds me to keep facing the right direction, run, walk, or a combination thereof, and eventually I will arrive at the point I set out to achieve. That dogged determination ultimately reveals the seventeen mile marker where I can put in my mind that I’m into the “Midget Digits”! (The miles left have only one digit.) Nine, eight, seven, six….tired as I may be, the journey becomes more manageable, the road more friendly, and, yup, I can do this.

I have lots of “seventeens” in my life. The second-to-last mile of any workout distance, the second set of reps in a series of three, the last peak before the summit of a mountain, the final submission of a thesis statement. It’s about focus. Focus and the management of big things in life that require mental and physical energy and commitment. It’s good to cut them into bite size and take a small portion at a time. That’s one of the reasons Jeff Galloway’s program works so well (walk a minute of every mile), it’s lots easier to think about running four minutes than about running ten miles. Fool that head.
In the area of fitness, if you’re just getting started, this concept is especially important. It is so easy to quit—or not start--- as you look at the big picture. Marty Jerome of The Complete Runner’s Log reminds us that our bodies arrive as a single piece of equipment. Running makes demands of the whole apparatus, so it makes sense to strengthen the entire body. Now that’s a project, one that isn’t accomplished in a day, or a week, or even sometimes a year, and that’s where the “mental mile markers” come in. Establish in your mind—or on paper—mile markers of the personal fitness plan you choose. Then face in the right direction and keep moving. Today a run, tomorrow lift, bike on Thursday…whatever is reasonable in your lifestyle, keep the big plan in mind and focus on reaching the midget digits. Those markers can be by the scale, by the burgeoning weekly mileage, by the number of repetitions in your weight program; it’s your ‘marathon’.

Keep a log. It is really helpful to record weight, calories consumed, water taken in, and pertinent things that happen daily. The ship’s captain keeps a daily log; is in deep trouble if he doesn’t. Good idea for you. It not only makes a helpful record for reference, but also a tangible reminder of what you have—or have not---done on a daily basis that you promised yourself, and how that has---or has not--- impacted your fitness regimen.

There’s a 17 mile mark out there for every endeavor, shoot for it. When the midget digits appear, the goal is reachable. “Small increments of desired behavior” result in a fine finished product. Go for it.

Fitness by the Numbers
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