Imagine for a moment: one week you are running the best you have ever felt physically and mentally. Your times are improving with ease. You are running faster & further than you have before. Your goals of qualifying for Boston for a second time seem like a walk in the park. All you need to do is just run the race.
Now imagine the following week: your foot doesn’t stop hurting. Your hip feels tight and you can’t lift your leg. Your knee begins to ache with every step you take. Suddenly, efforts you put out 7 days ago seem like a distant memory, separated by the fog of frustration and the depths of doubt.
Those exact events have taken place in my life over the last 2 months. The endgame of those events is where I am now: after over 200 races in my 16-year competitive running career, I earned the not-so-coveted “DNF” this last weekend at a race that was supposed to be my Boston Qualifier.
One of the unique things about running is how quickly things can change. One moment you’re grasping at PR’s and the next you are grasping your knees. Running has an incredible way of filling our hearts with joy and tearing it to pieces. After 16 years of running, you would think I would have things figured out. Thousands of miles and enough shoes to supply an army, this running thing should be easy…right? Practice makes perfect? Well, not exactly.
That is one thing that makes running so different than any other sport in the world. To become a professional in any other sport, you are virtually doing the same things over and over and over until it becomes so ingrained in your brain and your muscles that it becomes part of you. With running, no race is the same. No training cycle is like the one before. No workout is quite like your last. You would think I would have learned that by now, right?
Well, here I am. Still heartbroken over this last weekend. Still confused about what went wrong. Still embarrassed to even show my face to those who were cheering me on. Still sort of lost as to what is next. Here’s the thing though: one bad race doesn’t define a career. After the events this weekend, a total stranger that I have never met before in my life sent me a message. The message was simple. It said “Sometimes it takes the frustrating races to appreciate the good ones. And there’s a lot of good ahead.” That concept can be applied to EVERYTHING in our lives. To know the good, we must also experience the bad. There has to be opposition in all things. If every run was easy and every race a PR, would running really be anything more than just a chore? That concept is what makes the good ones better, and the better ones best.
Even after spending more than half my life running, I needed to be reminded of that.
Remember, never give up. Never give in. Just keep fighting and looking within.
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