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Steve Wagner, Published March 11 2012

Inspiration aids in accomplishing goals

Three simple words have carried me through some rough spots.

Simple, but succinct, the words were spoken by Chief Dan George, an actor in “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” to Clint Eastwood during a poignant moment in the movie: “Endeavor to persevere.”

Often, I’m struck by what comes to mind while running. Those words have popped into my conscience more than once.

Sometimes in the middle of a distance we’ve never run, or when we hit a bad patch in a race, or wonder if we’re making progress with training, those words can carry a lot of meaning.

Thinking back to last year, one of the goals I set for myself was to attempt to place in my age group in a trail series this winter in the Arizona desert. There were five qualifying races for a championship, ran this past weekend, in which participants could rack up points. A runners’ three best point totals would then be added to determine their overall placing in the series.

Luckily, I was able to run in three of the qualifying races, although the logistics weren’t always easy. Normally I’d fly down late on a Friday night and get up early to drive to the start of the race. That meant I was usually racing tired, dehydrated and stressed from the travel. In a race last month, I severely sprained my ankle, and was forced to take several days off.

As the championship trail race approached, my goal became more attainable. While I hadn’t placed in the top three in any of my previous trail races, consistent performances added up to a strong cumulative point total.

Before the final race, I stood in fourth place, just a few points out of third. A few other runners were right behind me.

But by showing up, determined to survive the 18-plus mile race, I reached for my goal. Sure, running a smart race proved to be an important determining factor in the series. However, persevering in races over rocks and mountains helped me walk away feeling good about reaching the goal.

So the next time I am struggling, those three words will help pull me through. I might just be surprised at the results.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com