May 22, 2018

Running Past Our Limits Update (Part 1)

rhodesLast summer I wrote a series on lessons learned from marathon training. I’m occasionally asked for an update. Here it is, a year later.

You can read the whole story in the archives, but briefly, I started training a couple years ago as a way to deal with what I thought was an unfinished injury rehab issue. I didn’t intend to become a marathoner; I was having trouble walking, running was impossible, and I’d tried pretty much everything else, so one day I got the idea of using the elliptical machines at Bally’s to reprogram my body into moving again.

After a discouraging start, I eventually ran a marathon on the machine. My times quickly got faster and faster, and before long I was into elite-level training and turning in world class marathon times. No, I wasn’t actually running, I was using an elliptical machine, but still… a marathon at 4:37 minutes per mile is booking it!

In the meantime, my new rehab theory wasn’t proving out. The faster and further I ran, the less I could walk. It made no sense: on the machine I could do the impossible; in real life I could barely do what’s possible for most people. I sought solace at the keyboard, and wrote that first Running Past Our Limits series, which ended this way:

You’ve long since figured out that this series of blog posts isn’t about running marathons on the elliptical machine. Instead, it’s about running past our limits, whatever they are. It’s about doing things we know are impossible. Apparently we can live in two realities at once. In one, there is no possible way we can do the thing we want. In the other reality, we can, and the first reality’s negative opinion doesn’t count. The first time we do it, we’re stunned and astonished, and so is everyone else. The second time, it’s just routine. What used to be impossible has now become the new normal.

What’s the new normal you’d like to create for yourself? Like I said back at the start, if all of us could tap into this idea of doing the impossible, we and our lives and our world would change, maybe overnight.

Sounds good, but the trouble was, my world definitely was not changing overnight. My first new normal goal was simply to walk again. It was joined by a second: to run a real marathon in world class speed. The second goal was happening on the elliptical machine; the first wasn’t happening at all.

With encouragement from family, I began four months of bouncing from one medical specialist to another. Four MRI’s, two EMG’s, an endoscopy, a spinal tap, and a few dozen vials of blood later, the “impossible” I was up against suddenly took on a whole new meaning.

To be continued.

Kevin Rhodes is a lawyer in private practice who’s on a mission to help people love their work and their lives. He leads workshops for a variety of audiences, including the CBA’s Job Search and Career Transitions Support Group. You can email Kevin at

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