If you haven’t already learned, there will always be someone in life who is much smarter and faster than you. We have a tendency to estimate what our true potential is and to put a cap on limits we find to be unsurpassable. Essentially we have a perception that forces us to think those who outperform us in our work, studies or athletics have some sort of gift that we don’t have, therefore there’s no point in working to compete with them or attempt to surpass their successes. If we are to look at Ethiopians and Kenyans in long distance running, no one can argue that they haven’t achieved more than any other country that has competed in the Olympics or World Championships. At the same time, coaches, scientists and running enthusiasts around the world work hard to find what the secret might be. Do they have a special diet? Are they genetically disposed to running fast? Are they training at higher attitudes? Despite how much resolution an answer could bring to these researchers and coaches, the only answer The Ethiopian and Kenyan community has to provide is how they are driven by a tradition of excellence. An Asian country doesn’t outperform any other in math because of their diet, and Europeans don’t play the best soccer because it’s in their genes. The answer that is overlooked and never though of is, and remains, a tradition of excellence. People of different cultures and ethnicities live by the principle that they must work and think like the best. They also make it an obligation to live up to the level of excellence that has been set by previous generations.
You see, the best training happens in the U.S. An elite athlete in America has everything from an endless supply of shoes, food and technology. They can even choose to get massages whenever they desire or easily cross train in new ways. American athletes are blessed with many resources, many of which don’t exist in East Africa. Now this raises the question: “How are they the fastest distance runners?” If we look at where the best come from, we’ll notice they come from areas where people are struggling to survive. This means they grew and ate what was available. Being raised in poverty served as a motivation for most to work hard in running. This is so that some day their success could help rebuild their hometowns. Simply put, they want it more. Now the question still remains. What’s difference between you and someone who outperforms you?
I’m not saying we should all aim to be Olympic athletes or even CEOs of the companies we work for. However, we won’t really know how far we can get in life until we begin to work and think like a person who is capable of achieving great things. So what if your opponent has been better than you for years now? The excuse alone is a way to impede your progress. You’re not a winner until you begin thinking like one. If you fall short of a goal, let that be your motivation to come back as a harder working and internally driven you. After all, you have nothing to lose.
About five months ago you could have asked me if I enjoyed running, and I would have answered with a fully confident, “Of course I love running, it’s hard but I still manage to run almost everyday and train hard.” My sentiments towards the sport and the athletes who take on running full time remain unchanged. I still have runners I look up to at every level, whether that be my teammates or elite Marathoners. However throughout these past five months I’ve learned a little about the sport and a whole lot about my training . You see I am naturally driven by my current state of mind, like most people are. This simply means the work that gets done is heavily determined by how I “feel” right now. The days I “feel” lazy I become unproductive in my studies or work.
Similar to how I chose to become indolent in my work when I wasn’t having the most ideal day, my work wasn’t getting done and nor was I running . This all was put into perspective over the summer when I worked at a day camp, with little 8 and 9 year olds. I worked 6-7 hours a day. Not long, I know but I arrived home everyday after work “feeling” drained. Alongside my work I had a running schedule I had to follow. So now you see the only three things I had to get done within a 24 hour span was sleep, work and running. Two of which I was checking of my to-do list, daily. However when it came to my running I only completed 60% of what I was suppose to be doing, the rest of the time I was too busy “feeling” tired, so I would sleep. Fast forward to when school started, I began running with a team. Joining a team wasn’t a time for me to use how I “felt” to drive my actions. I had to abide by the rules. I came to practice and ran, even it was at 6am. It didn’t matter if I slept at 1am the night before, I still had to do what was expected and I did. Regardless if it were work or school, I made sure to finish my tasks in fear of making a bad grade, having an unhappy boss or a coach who is displeased with my performance.
Even though I once viewed my daily routine of practice, school, work, and practice again as a chore it has only taught me one thing. My feelings will never produce results. It’s always up to my actions and hard work to produce the results I am looking for. The PRs a runner dreams about will remain a dream until he/she learns the work that goes into making what others are out hustling and bustling to make their reality. After all, the difference between a person who runs high millage and one who runs only on good days is that the first dreams about the day he/she will get faster while the latter just waits for the time to come. Now when I or any other runner out there has a day(s) where their body is telling them, “Wouldn’t rest be more favorable?”, you be sure to reply with action that reflects your true purpose and drive.
These past three weeks I haven’t been running. It was mainly because I didn’t have time and I needed a break. It’s because I thought since I will start some intense training in June, I might as well take a breather. Needless to say these few weeks I have felt deprived of what I love to do. Even though I chose for things to be this way, it raised the concern of when should a runner take some time off. I know there are people out there that do some hardcore training year round and manage to go injury free.
I have yet to suffer from some serious injury but that’s probably because I have some down time for my body to recover. However I would love to be the type that runs year round and enjoys every season. For now, I will countdown the days until I start up my running again. I can’t really have blog post when I’m not running because that is when I am the least creative.
Therefore, I want to pose the question: Are you a year round runner? When would it be the right time to take a break from the sport?
For a month now, I’ve been thinking about switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet. For my purpose I have become more and more aware of how much our diet affects how we feel and run. I am now more convinced that our body does not easily digest meat and can run a lot more efficiently if we give it simple but nutritious foods.
Scott Jurek is a living testimony of how effective a non-meat based diet is. In his case he is a vegan. As I have discussed in my past post, Scott is a seven time Western States 100 miles champion and a two time Badwater champion. Asides from his training, his diet is what helped him to get to where he is. He gives an in depth look at his journey into ultramarthoning in his book Eat and Run.
I am mainly writing this post to get your opinion. I am not a vegetarian, yet. I am curious about your diet. I guess my two biggest questions are, what is your diet? Do you believe it has worked for you or are you also looking for something that can improve your lifestyle and overall health?
Over the years I have encountered a good amount of people who ask, “How is running fun?” or “Are you not suffering when you run?”. I can’t help but to think of a good response. A majority of the time I will answer it is painful, it’s not always easy. That answer always strikes a conversation. Who enjoys pain? What could you possibly get out of a dreadful activity? Why not just do some P90x or insanity to get in shape? As a reply to these questions, I care more to see what you other runners would say. I am well aware that running won’t always be seen like this:
I can assure you this picture was not taken 20 miles into the marathon. Even if it was I would not be surprised, the man might have some Taraumara in him. In short, I can say I run most of the time with the goal of punishing myself. How I handle the punishment will determine what type of runner/person I am. Running a 1,600 feet climb over the course of a mile never sounds pain free. However the reward comes at the end of the run. I can either assure myself that my mental and physical strength were strong enough to help me get through my run or I can man up and face the fact I was too much of weakling to conquer my run. If you are thinking I am being too hard on myself, I’m not. Every human has limits, we however are not able to reach those limits. Just when you think you have nothing, there is always something deep down that will push you to great measure. I said it, your question has been answered. Every runner has their own take on it. Each opinion lets you see why a runner runs and what motivates them to do this on a regular basis.
Therefore I am interested in hearing from you, runner or not. Is running a painful or pleasure-filled experience for you? If you don’t run, how do you perceive those of us who do?
As a runner I have always struggled to answer the question, “Why do you run?”. It’s a simple question but I did not have an answer to fully satisfy the question. However, as I was running things began to solidify. I began to understand why I am motivated to go out everyday and run. Despite how I feel, I always have the desire to run. All runners have a side of them that strives to reach those personal goals; in the end, the reasons that resonate deep down are what keep a runner loving what they do. Today was one of those days. I decided to run a quick 30 minute run. My intentions were to push every mile and to suffer through the pain. As I was running, certain thoughts and memories would come up that I face in my life today. At points in the run where I was out of breath and could not push it anymore; I would tell myself pain only hurts.
Whether I am filled with anger, happiness, or sadness, running is my outlet. I can use hills as a punching bag, or downhills as a reward. No matter how hard my run is I know there is always an end. As hard as things may be, life always has a way of working out. For those who have asked me this question, here you go, this is why I run. Every runner has his/her own reason to why they run but what unites us all are the challenges and rewards running has to offer. A runner can freely discuss their interest about the lifestyle and there is always a person there who can relate and share the same experience. This here my friend is why I write, I acknowledge there is someone out there who can relate to my running lifestyle.
I have always wondered, Why do you run?
Today 2 people died, and many were injured. My heart breaks for those who witnessed this tragic event and had to suffer from the explosions. All we have are our prayers and our encouragement to offer the people of Boston. May God bless those who ran across the finish line and into the hospitals to donate blood for the victims. In times like these we should be thankful for what we have and focus less on the things that are insignificant in our lives but more on our friends and family.