For those of you that are regular readers of my blog, you will know that I have committed to and am training to run in the EDF Birmingham Half Marathon on 24th October 2010. I wrote about the goal and application of the 10 Steps of Success in my Birmingham Half Marathon post. While I was out running during week 2 of my training programme, I was thinking back over the sporadic training that I had done since May when I started to suffer from tendonitus around the base of my Achilles Tendon on a regular basis. There were times when I started to think that these recurrences were going to stop me pursuing the goal of running in this event.

Getting help from others

Thinking back over the last few months, I recognised a pattern had started to appear. I’d do a couple of 5 or 6 miles runs in a week (thinking that just running distances was the way to go), one or both of my tendons would flare up, I’d rest for a week… and repeat. After a few repeats of this loop, I decided to seek some help, I searched around on some running forums for information and advice on tendonitus. I found some tips such as cutting slots in the back of my running shoes around the ankle tabs, particularly where they were stiff, and some stretching exercises. These definitely helped, but I was still getting some minor symptoms. What was more interesting and perhaps significant was that when I searched for and started the new training plan that I noticed a big difference; despite there being more running miles in each week than I had been running to now, the variation in pace, distance and activities coupled with cross-training and rest appear to be making an impact.

Ok, so you’ve got this far down this post and I still haven’t got to the perserverance bit…

Sticking at it

Perserverance is the characteristic of sticking at something that you have begun, to keep on striving to achieve what you set out to do. There were a few times during the last couple of months when faced with another week of rest, hobbling around, that I could have given up. However, I was determined to meet the commitment that I had made and achieve this goal. Alright, I still have some way to go but I am determined to achieve it. I have learnt a lesson in the process; the end goal is the same but I have changed my approach, I have sought advice and am pursuing a different route.


Albert Einstein is attributed with the following quote:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result

So was I insane? Perhaps not, but I think I was being stubborn.

Perserverance is an important trait, we all face obstacles and inconveniences in some form as we strive to progress and achieve our goals and ambitions. If we gave up at the first sign of them, we would never achieve anything. However, there is a difference between perserverence and stubborness. Occasionally, you need to reassess the approach you are taking and perhaps change your game plan; the end game is still the same, the goal to be achieved. If you’re prepared to ‘give up’ after the first obstacle, perhaps the goal was not that important to you in the first place?

To finish off, I’d like to offer this extract from a classic poem that tells the story of Robert the Bruce, who after six successive defeats by the English was a fugitive in a lonely hut. While there he saw a spider try six times to cast his thread from one beam to another without success, then unperturbed tried and succeeded on the seventh try. Bruce took great courage from the spider’s perseverance, fought a seventh battle and won.


Bernard Barton (1784-1849)

… When, looking up with wistful eye,

The Bruce beheld a spider try

His filmy thread to fling

From beam to beam of that rude cot–

And well the insect’s toilsome lot

Taught Scotland’s future king.

Six times the gossamery thread

The wary spider threw;–

In vain the filmy line was sped,

For powerless or untrue

Each aim appeared, and back recoiled

The patient insect, six times foiled,

And yet unconquered still;

And soon the Bruce, with eager eye,

Saw him prepare once more to try

His courage, strength, and skill.

One effort more, his seventh and last!–

The hero hailed the sign!–

And on the wished-for beam hung fast

That slender silken line!

Slight as it was, his spirit caught

The more than omen; for his thought

The lesson well could trace,

Which even “he who runs may read,”

That Perseverance gains its meed,

And Patience wins the race.

Did the spider or “The Bruce” change their game plan? I don’t know. However, both knew what they wanted to achieve and stuck with it until they were ultimately successful.

Creative Commons License photo credit: skoch3