There is something about my type A, perfectionist personality, which in the past, stood in my way of pushing beyond life’s obstacles. Even if I gave my best, if others were losing at a faster rate, I deemed myself as a failure. The same is true with my running. But fortunately, I was able to put an end to that way of thinking after being taught a lesson by a gentleman who refused to let others keep him from his goals.
About a year into my running I decided to step outside the comforts of working one on one with a running coach to see what it would be like to run with a group. I signed up for a speed training class at my local running specialty store. I remember coming to the class excited to embark on the next chapter into becoming a more efficient runner. I was nervous, but comfortable in my ability, after all I had been working with a coach for almost a year.
The class took place on a cold February evening. We introduced ourselves to one another and that’s when I realized I was the second oldest in the group and only one of four women runners. I was beginning to feel my confidence waver. Our coach had us run the one mile trek to the local high school track where we ran 3 miles and when we were done we were to shout out our time.
I was one of the last runner’s to arrive to the track, huffing and puffing as I did my best to keep up. Now I was feeling like I did not belong. Our coach blew the whistle and off we went. The young guys and gals took the inside fast lanes as the slower runners, like me, kept to the outer lanes. As time passed, the faster runners were lapping me and then some of the slower runners started picking up steam and started passing me. At 20 minutes the first runners started shouting out their times. Here I was still trying to get to mile 2. I was feeling defeated as everyone else had completed their mission. The coach shouted to me and the older guy, who was all of 68 and trailing less than 200 meters behind me, to see how far we had gone. We hit the 30 minute mark and I was still only 2.75 miles into my run. The others were standing around talking and waiting and I felt so pressured that I told him I could stop. Surprisingly, Richard-the older man was not too far behind me-said he wanted to finish his 3 miles and he did.
The next week I vowed not to be intimated by the younger, faster runners. Fortunately, we had a new female member in the group who was 10 years older. Now I knew I wouldn’t be the last female runner to finish .
We started the evening doing a nice warm-up followed by running 800 meters at a pre-determined pace followed by a nice 400 meter walk only to repeat the scenario for the next 4 sessions. I decided I was not going to be last. I was going to do my best, but having never done this type of training, I did not pace myself from the get go. I started out way too fast and totally bonked as Mary, the older runner, flew past me. I was totally humiliated as the group once again waited for me and my old running pal Richard to come in.
I was devastated and sadly, I never returned to the class. .
Looking back I wonder why at that time I expected more from myself than I had the ability to do. After all isn’t that why I was taking the class, to become a faster more efficient runner? Several months after the class, I ran into Richard at a local race. He asked me how I was doing and was glad to see I was still running. He told me he really didn’t gain too much in the speed department but he finished out the class. He said he wasn’t there to compete against runners who were 20-40 years his junior, but to compete against himself. He was not there to judge their ability, but his own.
I learned a lot that year as a runner. I vowed never to let anyone intimidate me or better yet, let myself not trust my ability. I vowed that if I ever became a running coach I would cheer on the one’s bringing up the rear as much as those who finished with a personal best. Our journey is not to judge ourselves against others, but to do the best we can where we are. That was 3 1/2 years ago and I am proud to say I never gave up on my dream to become the BEST runner I can be.
HAPPY SPARK RUNNING!
Do you judge yourself against others? Do you allow others to intimidate you?
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