Monday, July 25, 2011

Run your own race

I ran in my once-per-year competitive race this last week-end. My primary reason for running isn't physical fitness, it's for my mental health so competitive running with lots of people isn't really my thing. But I do enjoy this one run. It's pretty low key; the distance (8K or about 5 miles) is right, and it's along the Centennial Trail, which is my favorite running place.

This year I was excited about the race - I was running well and had set an ambitious goal for myself. Everything looked great until my middle back started to give me problems a few weeks before the race. I had to cut back on my runs and the morning of the run I just wasn't sure how it would go. I knew I could always walk parts of it, but that would be disappointing.

It turned out to be a wonderful race - I actually not only met my goal, I beat it by over 2 minutes.

What I really wanted to share was a refrain that I had to repeat to myself over and over before and during the race:

Run your own race!

When I got there and saw how many serious, long-legged, obviously competitive runners were milling around and started to do the comparison thing:

Run your own race! It doesn't matter what your body build is like compared to theirs. It doesn't matter that you started running late and you wish you had started younger...none of that has anything to do with YOU RIGHT NOW!

During the run when I felt the pressure to keep at a pace that was not comfortable and started to wonder if I could even keep running:

Run your own race!

When I saw the fastest runners already heading back around the loop before I made it to the half-way point and felt discouraged:

Run your own race! What they are doing has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. It is irrelevant.

I had to repeat that refrain so many times to myself that I couldn't help but think about how the wisdom within it applies to all of life. Each person is on their own path, running their own race and each race/racer is unique.

Like anything in life, this is a complicated thought because you have to balance the potential to learn from others with the peril of comparisons and the fact that what other people are doing could very likely be totally IRRELEVANT to what you need to do. As I reflect on my life I think I look to others too much, thinking that if I follow their path it will help me on mine.

Hmmm, maybe not.

I think I will focus more on running my own race.


  1. You left off some important details:

    * You had several *firsts* in this race. Not only beating your time but keeping a constant pace through the entire run.

    * Hills that used to be a problem are now 'just another element' of the course.

    You ran great and I am really excited for your next event.

    New challenge: Two races in the same year. Here is an easier one that will accomplish the goal: