From Teaching Yourself How To Race by Jeff Gaudette:
Many runners don’t realize that the ability to push during a race is actually a skill. Like all skills, some athletes are born with an inherent ability to push themselves, while others need to work on it more in training.”
[Insert the sound of my brain exploding with revelation.]
In my last post I mentioned how I am enjoying learning how to “push through the pain” during a long run. It sounds a little odd to say that, but it’s true. I’m enjoying it because it means that I’ve become a good enough to runner to start to learn these lessons.
I was not born with a strong inherent ability to push myself. At least not in physical pursuits. Academics, music, sure; I could study or practice until I felt I had it just right. But in the sports I occasionally participated in as a kid (ice skating, gymnastics, basketball, karate) I was only as good as my natural ability and never pushed myself to be the best I could be. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable.
I’ve been really reluctant to say that I want to be the best runner I can be. I’m afraid that there is a long road of discomfort between where I am now and where I could be. However, this last year I pushed myself more and more and saw results for the effort I put in. I learned a lot from more experienced runners and have benefitted greatly from that. I’m learning to push myself.
Just after running RNR LA Half Marathon last October (the first time I truly kept pushing my pace as the race got more and more difficult), I read the article above and many things Gaudette said really blew my mind. I’m not talking about his training plans so much as his clear and obvious statement that running is you versus yourself; not being deterred by discomfort.
It’s so obvious, right? The ability to push through the pain is a skill that you can develop. Sure, the great ones will have that coded into their DNA and every fast-twitch muscle fiber of their being, but for us ‘mortals’ who want to be our best, there is real and possible hope for improvements.
These ideas are nothing new and sorry to bore most of you, but sometimes it takes the right person (like magic Marjorie) or the right wording to crack through my lack of self-confidence and hold a mirror up to my possibilities.
Same thing applies to life. Taking a calculated risk for the chance of something better can be really uncomfortable. But this is a skill you can develop. Some are naturally “good” at that. For others, like me, it’s difficult to live with uncertainty or the unknown and the discomfort that can bring. But if the end result is worth it, whether that’s being the best runner I can be or discovering a truly fulfilling life, I should “train myself” to take a chance and dare to dream a little bigger.
In one week I’ll be unemployed – free to try some new things and learn some new things. Free to discover the best me.