Thoughts “Running” Through My Head — On Running

Very recently ran a 5k and “did ok.” Won my age group. Not going to lie, that always feels good. But, my time was probably 1:30 slower than where I’d want it to be in a perfect running world. I’ve been injured and haven’t trained as well as I want and to be honest thinking I can be 1:30 faster is a silly goal but it’s a goal.

As I was running this race, I started having a lot of thoughts:

  • Getting older MEANS you’ll get slower. Finding an “acceptable level” of just how much slower is the key. Nobody is saying, “give up”, just “get real.”
  • In some of my PR (Personal Record) races, I literally spent myself. I mean as in: I would have jumped into an ambulance afterward — if I had the ability to breathe or even move at that point. Maybe I DON’T need to do that any more to “be successful.”
  • There’s something to “running fast” when you’re young and you have health and athleticism on your side, and there’s something to “running smart” when you reach a certain age.
  • Clint Eastwood said in “Magnum Force” — “A man’s got to know his limitations.” When you pull a muscle at 29, you can be out there full tilt again probably in 2 weeks. When you strain a calf at 49, it might take you 6 months to a YEAR to “get right” — or close enough to right to make a halfway decent time. The key is putting in the WORK to get better — putting your ego in check and REMEMBERING exactly how old you are.

Now — a lot of non-runners eyes have glazed over by now. You’re probably thinking: “Who cares? I don’t run. You’re getting older, get over it and shut up about running.”

Or maybe what you really said is, “OK, so what’s the point?”

I think it’s this: in the MIDDLE of the activity, ALL of these thoughts came into my head. Usually I’m worried about pace and breathing and basically trying not to die or pull a muscle or how many minutes I’ll finish behind those guys up there ahead of me who are 5 years OLDER than me, etc. But this was different.

This felt — good. Mentally.

On occasion — I’ve been happy afterward about how “tactical” my race was, or maybe about flat out time and other times I’ve been quite unhappy about my effort.

This particular event and the particular thought process I was having came down basically to this set of thoughts: “Your basic level of performance may not be ‘top 15 percentile’ — but you know what? For your age it’s close — and that’s pretty good. Maybe it’s time to admit you know what you’re doing here. You’re CLEARLY not the best, but you’ve literally hit a stride that feels fairly good for your age, your health level, your time available to train. So be ok with it.”

So as that’s all going through my head, I turn a corner and the finish line is 400 meters ahead. What? I literally looked at my watch to see if the course was short. Nope!

There were two young guys ahead of me and I was about to catch them. One thing I always do at the end of a race is let someone know I’m coming if they’re ahead of me and I’m gaining. Many runners will just try to pass them on the element of surprise. I don’t. If I have a kick left, I want those people in front to have the chance to stay ahead. They’re up there for a reason. They deserve a shot to maintain that spot. I always yell at anyone I’m approaching in the last quarter mile. I yelled: “Time to go! Don’t let an old man beat you guys! Let’s push! Come on!” They were stunned, looked over their shoulder, and took off, going from just feet ahead to topping me by a good 15 seconds. They should beat me by that much if not more. Afterward they came over and shook my hand and THANKED ME for pushing them.

I’m perfectly ok with that.

I still have work to do as a runner. I still have work to do as a meteorologist and a dad and a husband and a church member and a wannabe musician and a writer and so many other things in life. Having the chance to really see a “bigger picture” while IN the moment was a pretty special moment at least in terms of running.

The so-called “thought leaders” of the day are talking about “self awareness” and “EQ” over “IQ.” Maybe some folks need a DVD set or book to walk them through the process of “figuring out if you’re OK with things.”

I think we’re all programmed to reach this kind of thinking. I’m just not used to doing it while trying not to implode during a 3.1 mile footrace.

For once, I see a little benefit to “maturity” — and I’m OK with that.

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