I was reminded of this story today after completing my final long run of the marathon training schedule (20 miles). It struck me that throughout the entire training process, I was only ever able to run as far as I had predetermined. If I set out to run four miles around the block, I find myself growing really tired after 3 and half miles, and I'm thankful when four rolls around. If I set out to run 12, I breeze past 4 but get tired around 10 and barely make it to 12. Today, 20 was the goal, and I felt great until I passed 15, felt awful when I hit 18, and finally limped to the finish afterwards. In a few weeks, I'll run 26.2, and the cycle will continue as 20 feels like 15, 24 feels like 18, and 26 feels like 20. (The final 0.2 are always completed in a state of delirium).
What's the point? Simple: no matter what you set out to do, be it a hobby, work, school, or a personal interest, you will only be able to accomplish to the level you've set for yourself. If you allow a small rope to tie you down, you will remain there for the rest of your life. If you set the ceiling at 4 miles, you'll never finish a 10K. If you say "I'm just not a math person" or "I've always wanted to try that but..." then it will never happen. Your brain is a powerful thing and will often shape your reality before you even realize you have a choice. Be sure you're keeping your ceilings high, pulses low, and ropes untied. Even if something or someone does try to tie you back, be better than the elephant. Give the rope a tug before taking a nap...you might be surprised where it takes you.