Saturday, November 7, 2009

Confession of a wannabe runner…

I suck at running! Ok there it is. I said it, and now the whole world knows the truth. It is good for the soul to acknowledge your weakness, and running is clearly mine. This wouldn’t actually be so bad if I wasn’t surrounded by so many runners. Runners are everywhere; in the gym, in the parks and even in my own home. There are little ones, fat ones, tall and small ones, but every one is faster then me! No one expects to be faster than hardcore running fanatics. One friend runs in 100-mile races! He is faster then me, but I am OK with that’s... he’s certifiably crazy ;) It’s the ‘friends’ that aren’t serious at all about fitness, never really run, are grossly overweight and have a crappy diet that irritate me the most. You guessed it… they’re faster then me. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with me, and my conclusion is less then flattering. First I eliminated the obvious reasons for poor performance like a lack of training, bad footwear, inflexibility, insufficient cardio and muscular endurance. I bought new shoes, stretched, hit the gym and the treadmill. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that I completely suck at running you might even confuse me for a runner. For the last 2-years, at the end of a long summer of racing mountain bikes, I have gotten right into my cross-training regime (but not training for Cross). I started running faithfully once a week, but despite my dedication and suffering I am still painfully slow. Every weekend we travel out to Birch for 2-hours of hill repeats, and every weekend I am so incredibly sore I can barely walk. Is this normal? Do people actually like running? In 2007 I was struggling with a hamstring injury, and 2 measly hours of running on the Birch Fall Classic cross country mountain bike course was almost beyond me. 2-years later my cardio has improved somewhat, but I am still running head first into the preverbal wall at 2-hours or by 20 km at a tempo paced hill session. I still get so fantastically sore I can barely walk.

What do you do if you hate running, or hate the fact that you suck at running or some other challenge in your life? Or maybe you don’t quite hate running, but you’re just not happy with being the slowest guy in the pack? Perhaps you get depressed, make excuses, whine and get fat. `Maybe you just don’t see the point in running at all if you can't win, and stick to something your comfortable with and good at.

If you don’t see the point in running, then you’re missing the point of personal development entirely. We can't all win all of the time. Winning even one race is an exceptionally difficult thing to do. The point of the race is to be challenged, and as a result of your struggles you are forced to adapt and grow. Without adversity our personal development grinds to a halt, and we flounder around in side a shell unable to do a thing. Challenge in life can takes many forms. Evidently mine is running.

If you think your life is out of control, it’s because you’ve chosen to relinquish the controls. What happens when you pack it in because you can’t win? When you let go of the controls of your life? Without effort and a sense that we are in charge of our lives we begin to spin around in circles, or gets stuck in the mud dammed to repeat the same old behaviors until we crash. True control cannot be gained by wrestling the bike back on to the same path we’ve been careening down. Having meaningful influence is more about letting go of the brakes then it is about being in charge. Not everything in life is easy, pleasant and fun. Some of the best things have to be earned with sweat, blood and tears. If you’re current situation is not what you want it to be don’t clench the bars with a death grip, or simply dismount and walk away resigned that life sucks. Giving up or attacking the problem hasn’t worked in the past, and it is not likely to make things better in the future. Sometimes the best thing you can do is face your personal challenges head-on, and keep moving forward. Change is never easy but is always better then wallowing in self-pity or hiding behind anger.

Bottom Line:

Even if you suck at running it is far more productive to get off your butt and start moving. So if you need a change try these three tried and true methods of transforming a weakness into a strength. Frist, accept your weakness, and develop a plan to improve the situation rather then being reconciled to schlepping at the back of the pack. Work to change your behavior rather then trying to manipulate the people and situation around you. After all, the only thing we can really control is ourselves. Finally, update your plan of action frequently. Getting to the top of the hill is never easy, and sometimes it simply sucks, but if you want to make a change the hardest part is taking the first step.

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