This phrase has so many connotations to it! The most powerful for me is the link to the original Rocky movie and his desire simply to withstand the onslaught of a superior opponent. Later in my life, it co-opted for a moronic song (in my opinion) by a band called Cake. I hate that I even mentioned it because it is bound to stick in my head for a while. Lately this has been a way of life. As I am preparing for my second sprint triathlon, my daily practice is quite simply to “go the distance” that I have set in front of myself. Whether it is 1000 meters in the pool or 5 miles worth of running, there is a distance to be covered and I must do it!
None of this sounds overly inspirational or grandiose. And the truth is that on the one hand it’s not! Hours in the pool, on the bike or on the run are spent largely alone with your own thoughts. Many pictures, ideas and questions pass through your mind and one of the major ones is: why am I doing this? I am not a professional athlete and my performance is bound to be largely mediocre when compared with the other people on the day of the race. So why bother? Because we don’t have to anymore!
There used to be a necessity to running long distances in order to track down an animal for the family or tribe. We no longer have to do that. So we need to put distances in front of ourselves. Some of these are metaphorical and others are literal but we need them. Our very existence cries out for us to put forth effort toward something of value. At one point, it was the hunt in order to feed ourselves and others. Now we have a much less concrete job of feeding our souls with a purpose that we must create. We must create meaning behind the distances that we cover. On the other side of those meters, kilometers and miles are hope, fulfillment, passion, love and excitement. No one else can put it there for us. We must create it, fashion it and sustain it because the truth is that we don’t have to.
Going back to the beginning, that is why the story of Rocky is so glorious. He didn’t have to go the distance. There was nothing extra for him in the way of money or accolades. He merely put it in front of himself in order to prove it to himself. “I’m going to know for the first time in my life that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.” We all have a distance that we need to go. Just be sure that you’re challenging yourself. That is when things get inspirational and grandiose. If we are challenging the self that we thought that we were. Taking on the challenge of going far enough, long enough that we come out on the other side as a new person. A better version of us that is more prepared than before.