I love being involved in the sport of running. Running is all about striving to be more. To be more tomorrow than we are today. To be more dedicated to health and fitness. To be more relaxed. To enjoy more time with our friends. To be more of the person we dream of being. Running is an outward expression of so many positive thoughts and emotions. I am inspired each and every day by those that are brave enough to take on the challenge to be more.
So if running is so great, why is it sometimes hard to love?
Just as you should never judge a run by the first mile, don't judge your relationship with the sport when you hit your first bout of adversity. Your relationship with running is very much a relationship: there will be good days when it seems almost easy and there will be days when you will have to work at it. Not every day will be sunshine and rainbows. So when you hit the inevitable tough day, try to think of it as an opportunity to grow and develop into a better runner and person. Make it your goal to turn your negatives into positives, and you will find your running will improve and become much more fulfilling. Train yourself to search for the constructive and helpful rather than the disappointing and defeating. Train yourself to turn adversity into opportunity.
What is the most common reason people stop running? They stop having fun. Running loses its fun when we start to look at running as a chore to be completed rather than a gift and an opportunity to improve ourselves. Remember, running is a journey, not a destination. As a coach, I love goals because they help keep us on track. At the same time though, we cannot become slaves to the achievement of those goals. The goal itself doesn’t shape you as a runner; the miles you log in pursuit of that goal do. It’s important to stop, step back, and smell the proverbial roses along the way.
Think of all the friends you’ve made through running.
The self-discovery you’ve encountered.
The early morning, pre-dawn, postcard views.
These are the things that truly make running enjoyable. These are the things that get our butts out the door when we don’t want to go.
Running itself provides inspiration to keep us going. If you can't see it, you aren't looking. The people, the scenery, the experiences—inspiration is everywhere. In people: the woman who beat cancer, the guy who lost over one hundred pounds, the man who took up running at seventy years old, the woman chasing a Boston qualifier. In the scenery: dawn on a fall morning, the sun cresting through a fog, the salty breeze and crashing waves on a beach, a silent forest with only the sound of your feet crunch the snow. Remember: the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. No matter how bad a day or a run may seem, there is always someone facing and overcoming an even greater challenge.
If you look in the mirror and don’t see the happy runner you wish you were, get out there and grab a runny buddy. Even though you will each go through a rough patch at one point or another, chances are those rough patches won’t happen at the same time. Help one another to become stronger than the sum of your parts. A running buddy—or even better, a group—will help keep the crank turning.
Now get out there and work on your relationship with running!
Tim Cary is Head Track & Field and Cross Country for Lindenwood University at Belleville and the former Fleet Feet Assistant Training Manager. Over his more than two decades of coaching, Tim has coached athletes to three national team championships, five national individual championships, two national records, and numerous All-American and All-State honors. Click here to receive Tim's weekly article via email.