This entry was prompted by a question I received from a friend a few days ago. He asked me if I had any doubts about this run. I replied that once I’ve made up my mind to do something, I know I will do it because if I don’t it will kill me knowing that I could have done it but didn’t. We humans are all capable of amazing things, it is just a matter of deciding to go after them. To me that willful determination is tested everyday in a runner’s world, so I thought I’d write a post about it:
Running is an incredibly humbling activity. I know of no other sport where one could train for two hours a day, 6 days a week, and receive so little recognition or reward for being a dedicated athlete. I played soccer throughout my childhood, and even if I was not a pro, I at least got recognition on my team and in my league. And some compassionate soccer mom was always feeding us orange slices. Running, on the other hand, is such an individual activity. I have to cut my own orange slices these days!
I have a magazine clipping taped above my training calendar on my bedroom wall — the clipping states quite simply: “it’s you vs you”. If you skip a run, or drop out of a race, you are only letting yourself down. No teammates or coaches rely on your performance to measure their success or failure. At first, that is a very freeing concept, and in some ways it might make quitting seem a lot easier – and logistically it is. There are no teammates out there at mile 22 who are depending on you to get to mile 26.
But there is a flip side to this autonomous nature of running. It quickly becomes an immense mental contest with yourself. Because you know what you are capable of, and you know every day that you reach that potential, and every day that you choose not to. Because ultimately it is a choice – a choice every time you lace up – will I run hard today?
And that to me is what makes running so simple and still so rewarding. Because I know everyday that I got up and chose to challenge myself when it would have been just as easy not to.
It might require some sacrifice, but I’ve never doubted whether it was worth it.