Running with Life

It’s become my habit to think of a post while running.  I’ve banished the headphones in favor of think time.  Today while running I thought I might write about, well…running.

I had these two thoughts about how running is analogous to life:

1.  Failure is not the end of the road. When I started running it was basically because I had become a slovenly old man at the age of only 25.  I was never very athletically oriented although I wasn’t completely uncoordinated.  I always enjoyed sports I just wasn’t that good at them.  I started out not able to run a mile without stopping.  Eventually I worked up to 3 miles and could do that in 27 minutes.  Nine minute miles!  I was amazed.  So I signed up for my first race and averaged nine minute miles.  Little did I know that people could actually maintain a pace of 5 minute miles for the entire 3.1 miles.  Not only that but my finishing time of 27:56 wasn’t even middle of the pack.  I got beat by women; old women; old fat women and a nearly 80 year old guy who took one step and kind of jerked his leg around for the second step.  Talk about a blow to the ego!  What I didn’t do though was quit.  I stuck with it and am still doing it 20 years later.  I worked up to the marathon distance and did that twice.  I ran a sub 23 minute 5k which puts you close to the front of the middle of the back and a 47:47 10K at the edge of 42.  I even managed to run a 6:10 mile in my early 40s.  None of those accomplishments put me in the record books.  Most of them didn’t even get me an age group medal but they are among my proudest accomplishments.  The point is that failure is how you learn.  If I wouldn’t have ever run a race I wouldn’t have known that the body is capable of more.  Trying and failing is way better than not trying. As John Wooden said, “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.  I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes,”

2.  Things change but the goal remains the same:  In running things are always changing.  You get older, you get slower, your favorite trail gets roadblocked or, god forbid, they build a sewer plant in the middle of your daily running route – true story, not along the route but right in the damn middle of the alley.  Sometimes you have to be flexible.  You have to realize what your body can handle and you have to adapt.  Run a little slower, run more easy runs, find a new route or a way around the obstacles.  Adapting is the key here.  Not quitting, not changing your goal but overcoming and excelling. The world is going to change.  Until you recognize that fact you are stuck.  

If we don’t change, we don’t grow.

If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. 
Gail Sheehy 


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