Every Sunday morning it's pretty much the same thing. Alarm goes off, running shoes laced up, Garmin grabbed on my way out the door as I head to coach our marathoners and half marathoners.
I'm a coach. And I love what I do. Granted, it's not my "day job" but life is truly an amazing journey when you share it with other runners.
So many of life's niggling issues can be worked out in my mind on a long run. Either that, or after 12 miles of hills I'm just too exhausted to believe the issue was as all-encompassing as it was prior to the run. On a long run, I've learned so many lessons that apply to life, and after 17 years of being an endurance athlete, these metaphors are only reinforced.
The journey is so much better with others. Maybe that's why I coach....because I'll be surrounded by others as we embark on a new day, a new trail, new stories to be shared, and spending quality time doing what we love. Sometimes the conversations morph into politics; other times its what we did on Halloween night with our children. Whatever the topic or destination, going through life in the company of those who add to my life makes the journey so much richer.
Trying doesn't replace training. Repeat after me. Trying does NOT replace training.
You can't shortchange marathon training and expect to have as enjoyable a journey as compared to putting in the miles week after week as scheduled. The same goes for accomplishments at work, success in school, and taking on projects as volunteers. There is something to be said for having a plan and following that plan, and training is what hones those necessary skills to, as Jim Collins would say, go from good to great.
Listen to your body. If you didn't know, endurance training can be excruciating, and most of us do that atop work and family commitments. And sometime, just sometimes, we push. What I remind those I coach is this - you have to listen to your body. Soreness is expected, but pain is a sign that you need to back off and do something differently, be it taking off time, icing inflammation, or consulting with a physician.
The same goes for life. We are often so busy with driving to soccer practice, making dinner on the run, getting bills to the post office to be postmarked on time, or mailing the card so it arrives in mom's mailbox before her birthday - so many of us have become expert in ignoring our bodies and the whispers of concerns that we should acknowledge to do one more project, send one more email and be the end all be all for those around us. If we don't listen to our bodies, we do ourselves a disservice and can't possibly be all that is needed for those around us.
Run your own race. On race day, all bets are off. I've learned this time and time again. On any given day, my body will play the role of friend or foe, regardless of my preparation and mental state. Take what you're given and make the best of it, because the race is your own. Likewise, life can teach us many wonderful lessons, but the advice of others may never be the perfect response to our personal challenges. It's your life. Live it. Run the race your way on any given day and give it your all, and do the same with your life.
World renowned American runner and four-time gold medal Olympian Jesse Owens once said, “”I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”
Life is really much of the same - you do it your way with plentiful options, ultimately relying on your own strength to get you through it. But going through it as a runner....life is so much more juicy!
And you may just find yourself on the journey.