The Speed Of “Progress”

When I started to run, it took me a few months to be able to run continuously 1 kilometer. In hindsight, this seems ridiculous. And yet, that was the level I was at, back then. Overweight, untrained, stressed and ignorant. Slowly, by pushing through, I somehow broke those barriers, but it was rally hard.

After staying for a while at 1-2 kilometers, I decided I’m good enough to participate in a 5km race. I did it and it was great. But I was very tired after that. Nevertheless, I continued to push. In about 3 weeks, I was able to run, with great effort, in training, about 15 km. So, logically, I signed up for a marathon in less than a month.

A marathon is 42km.

It was a grueling experience. I finished it in 5 hours and 40 minutes, mostly walking in the second part, as I was completely and utterly unprepared for it. The recovery was lengthy and it took me a few weeks until I was able to run consistently again.

To make a long story short, in about 2-3 years I finally learned how to manage my energy, how to train, what to eat and how to maintain a decent mental stress level so I can complete at least 2 marathons per year.

To Fast, Too Early

My first marathon will always be remembered as the definition of “too fast, too early”. My entire running experience offered, in hindsight, a great lesson on the speed of progress.

Constant accumulation requires time. Every thing that aims to endure requires time, that’s how you build endurance, in time.

I find this to apply in all the other areas I’m trying to perform. From my daily job, to the side projects or to year-long writing challenges, like the one you’re witnessing right now. Slow, constant progress is always producing more results than courageous, but reckless breakthroughs. They may give a self-esteem boosts, those short lived breakthroughs, but they’re not building long term progress. On the contrary, they make the road to sustainable performance slower.

And, more often than not, they even have the opposite effect. They’re pushing me away from the path, either by long recovery times, injuries or lack of motivation.

Lately, I observe this pattern at a macro, societal level too. There is a lot of “forced” progress going these days. From planetary medical experiments, sugar coated in “do the good thing for the good of everybody”, up to imposing democracy in other cultures, by war and coercion.

We just saw, the other day, how a 20 year long war suddenly ended, leaving behind an even bigger mess than it aimed to “solve”. Nothing was achieved by this forced progress, on the contrary. It kept an entire country in fear and uncertainty, while polarizing people even more. Too fast, too early.

I’m also seeing this in how the last pandemic was, and still is, approached. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong believer in the benefits of research, of modern medicine and of the progress in genetics. But then again, it looks like , for the sake of imposing some sort of “progress”, some type of “scientific, yet magical” solution, people are kept in fear and polarization creeps between “clean” and “unclean”, without any relevant signs of long term progress. Too fast, too early.

Photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash

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