Last week I was in the park with my children when I noticed a professional coach training a group of high school students. Interested, I asked the coach how long it took the average runner to cover one-quarter of a mile. “Oh, about 65 seconds for someone in good shape,” he told me – “go on, have a try yourself.”
He set his timer, and I sprinted off. When I had just a bit to go, I heard him shout, “keep pushing, keep pushing!” That did it for me, and indeed I made it in 65 seconds.
“So what really makes an athlete?” I asked him.
Athletes are born in the last 10 seconds of a run, he told me – in that space where they push themselves beyond what they thought they were initially capable of.
It’s a powerful concept, and interestingly enough the Talmud suggests this very idea in a discussion regarding the cost of a donkey relative to the distance it travels. There’s a set price for 100 miles, and at 101 miles, the cost significantly rises.
Because it is that one extra mile that sets this donkey apart from the average. Just like the runner who pushes beyond his threshold, rising above the norm and entering a space where extraordinary feats are achieved.
Let’s remember this when we face a challenge that threatens to wear us down; let’s keep in mind that those critical final 10 seconds hold the power for us to become far greater than our limiting beliefs.
Be an athlete!