Thursday, April 17, 2014

Meatballs

Remember the 1979 classic "Meatballs". Love this movie and love this scene where Trippper (Bill Murray) delivers a motivational speech to the campers who are worried about their annual competition with another camp.

A couple of days ago my friend Julie who I have known since we were at Syracuse together back in the mid to late 80's asked me if I was writing on Just A Mile To Go anymore. I gave her several excuses but the truth is I have not made the time. Hopefully Julie's encouragement and willingness to help out will give me that little kick in the pants I need. Here is what Julie has to say.

"It was much easier for me to ask Eric to get back to his blog so I could enjoy his thoughts. But my old important college friend, who introduced me to the Princess Bride said if I have something to say I should write. So here is what I have to say, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER.

Julie and son
I seem to have to learn this over and over again. I have not been running my entire life, I started after the birth of my youngest son and he just turned 8, so not that long. I have had great training runs, have fun prs, lots of race shirts with lots of great stories and even one marathon under my belt. But this winter was something different and it made me learn the lesson I keep having to learn over and over again, “It just doesn’t matter”.

I am a competitive person, I don’t like to be last and in most aspects of my life I am up front, except for running. I have been humbled, I have been blistered and I have learned the same lesson again and again, “it just doesn’t matter”. Eric will always run more miles than me, but others will run many fewer miles than me. And that just doesn’t matter. So what doesn’t matter? That after a winter of insane cold, insane work and insane sick I feel like a beginning runner. It just doesn’t matter that my times are back in the 10-minute mile range. It just doesn’t matter that I start my run with my friends but usually end alone and behind. It just doesn’t matter that my running partners had a great winter training season and I am jealous.

Julie and Danny
What matters is that running allows me to be honest that I am jealous, angry at myself for for being back at what feels like the beginning, slow and human. Also that running makes me push myself like I never have in anything else in my life (and I have a PhD. , so I wrote the dreaded dissertation so I can push hard). But running makes me say I can be better, I can push and I can try, succeed, fail and try again.



And if yesterday I finally had a sub 10 run, it just doesn’t matter because tomorrow I might have a sub 11. It just doesn’t matter because even with injury, blisters, snow, rain, and lack of sleep it matters that running makes me better. Better mom, wife, professor and friend. A better Julie. And for all of those shitty runs, the early mornings and the miserable first two miles that don't matter, today’s run, with the sun shining, all the chores for the day done and sub 10 miles shows me that I will probably have to keep learning the lesson over and over but it is worth it, because I get to be a runner."

Julie's point, if I may opine, is one of the most relevant when it comes to running. I am not taking away from the fact that we as runners often work tirelessly with specific time or distance goals in mind and often fall short. This can seem extremely disappointing at the time. But in the end Julie is right, "It just doesn't matter". First of all lets be honest. There are much more important and disappointing things going on in this world that are more catastrophic than missing a pr. For our purpose here, what matters is how we handle these moments and how our journey through running impacts our journey in life. I ask you the following question in several variations. To me what matters is if I answer yes to the following.

Do your failures and successes....
  • change the way you attempt to solve problems?
  • make you stronger?
  • make you a better person, husband, father, friend businessman?
  • drive you to pay it forward?
Ahhhh....feels good to write again even if it was only a couple of paragraphs. It's the thought that counts right? Thanks Julie!

Peace

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Resolutionist

January 1st
It is that time of year again. The gym is packed to the gills and unfortunately as history dictates, within the next few weeks it will be back to normal, EMPTY! Every year it's the same thing. Gym gets packed, I get annoyed, gym empties out and all is well again. This year I began thinking a bit more about this. Why does this bother me so much? Am I such an a-hole that I simply want all these people to go away so I can have my space without interruption? I am sure there are many who say yes, but I say I actually give a shit. I watch all these people come into the gym with great intentions, huge goals and fire in their hearts, only to run out of steam before the first month or even week is over. It's aggravating because I wish everyone would succeed and I know they can. So why don't they?
February 1st
There are variations on the definition of resolution but what applies in my mind is:

a decision or determination; a resolveto make a firm resolution todo something.

the act determining upon an action or course of action, method,procedure, etc.

I do not consider myself a linguist by any stretch but as I see it, here is the problem. A resolution is an act, only to the extent that it is a decision you make. Therefore, the moment you make that decision, its gone. The decision that is. We all still need to act on that resolve, each and every day.  After about 7 years of following through on my commitments to run and raise money, here are a number of things that I believe can help anyone fulfill their resolution. I think this can apply to all goals that require consistency and dedication over a long period of time but of course I will be more specific to exercise.

  1. Take it one day at a time. If your goal is months away you can't rush to the end. It takes time. Commit to whatever you need to do tomorrow and get up and do it. If you miss a day, don't beat yourself up. You can't get there in a day and you can't destroy the dream in a day either. Get over it and do it tomorrow.
  2. Pace yourself.  Remember, it takes time. If you try to do too much, too soon, you may injure yourself or simply burn out.
  3. Set attainable goals that will gradually build up your conditioning and maybe more importantly your confidence. As you learn more about yourself in this process including how you handle failure and success, you can start to set loftier goals.
  4. Share your goals with others. I find telling people is further motivation to succeed. You may also be surprised at the interest and support you will receive from your family, friends and co-workers.
  5. Ask questions. If you don't know what you are doing ask someone. If you don't know how to use a machine ask someone. If you need help coming up with a program ask. You can pay for this advise or simply ask others who are at the gym or who you know run, workout, etc. I have found over the years particularly in the endurance community that most are very willing, even eager to share ideas and experiences to help others.
  6. Read! There is so much material out there on whatever your interests are that can help you design your path and get through it safely and successfully.
  7. Do it for a cause. There is no greater incentive than doing something you enjoy while helping others. There is no greater reward than when someone says thank you. Find a charity that is meaningful to you, then find an event you have never done before and do it for the benefit of that charity in recognition of someone.
  8. Have fun! Although it takes work, it should not always feel like work. Find ways to make it fun. Change it up. Different locations, routines, people etc.
  9. Most importantly always remember, YOU CAN DO IT, just stick with it.
Don't let history dictate you. Get up tomorrow and dictate your new history.

Peace
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