My brief interaction with a fellow runner a few weeks ago has changed my attitude about running, at a time when I needed it the most.
As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I'm running the Chicago Marathon this Sunday. Training for a marathon is a long process (about 18 weeks), and definitely has its ups and downs. Some weeks, my runs go great and I feel like the race will be a success. Other weeks, my runs are terrible and I start to wonder if I'll be able to finish. Having done this type of training program before, I know that's part of the process.
A few weeks ago, I had a series of pretty terrible runs. And because of that, I started having an internal pity-party that lasted a lot longer than it should have. I started telling myself that these runs were harder for me than the average person. I have young kids, I'm still nursing one of them, I don't get much time to myself, I don't have the time to train as much as I should have, blah, blah, blah. The list could go on and on. My motivation and confidence started to wane, and instead of enjoying the training process, I started to dread it.
Then something happened. I was at mile 18 of my 22-mile run, telling myself it was okay to walk instead continuing to push through the fatigue. I started walking up a hill (which felt like a mountain, but was really a small grade), when I saw a man running in front of me. He was probably in his late 70s or early 80s, shuffling along, braces on each knee, but continued running when I had chosen to walk. Finally I picked up the pace, and eventually came up behind him. As I passed by, he waved and said "Hello." When I asked "How are you doing?" his response was "Pretty good for an old man!"
At that moment, I realized that everyone has their obstacles and I needed to stop internally whining about mine. We all have things that could stop us from reaching our goals or things that make reaching those goals a little more challenging. I'm not the only one, and my challenges aren't any bigger or smaller than anyone else's. I might be tired from being up late with a sick kid, but someone else might be just as tired from working late to meet a deadline at work. When you set a challenging goal for yourself, whether it's to run a marathon or lose 50 pounds, you know it's not going to be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
So now it's time for me to focus on my goal and get serious about finishing this race. I might not be the next Deena Kastor (she's the American record-holder for the marathon and is also running in Chicago this Sunday), but I can finish strong and be proud of my accomplishments.
Have you ever had a pity-party for yourself when times got tough? What did you do to get yourself out of that mentality and back on track?
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