A Very Bad Run
by Darlene Pineda

Setting goals, running forward sometimes much easier to say than do. And nothing is so humbling as literally running; physically moving your legs and running towards a goal. And when that goal is 13.1 miles away do you know how far 13 miles is? I mean, do you really know how far that is? Next time you get in your car, check you odometer and see how far it is to the store, around your neighborhood: you'll be surprised. Now (non-runners) imagine walking that far. Sounds pretty exhausting, eh? Now imagine running it.

You can't cheat. You can't cram the night before, you can't use buzzwords to sound like you're in better shape then you are. The road is very unforgiving, and it can tell instantly if you've done your homework.

I started running a few months ago, training for a half marathon (http://www.visitchesapeake.com/dismalswampstomp/), and I'm doing an okay job. But sometimes you have bad days. Sometimes you have REALLY bad days.

I was doing my very first 10-mile run. It's taken months to build up to this point. Well, it was the absolute worst run ever. I mean, worse then the very first time I ran, with the totally opposite kind of shoe then I needed, after 37 very fine years of sitting on my butt and refusing to break a sweat for anything that did not involve food at the end. (Although running DOES involve food at the end, which is why I decided to start. It fell into my strict parameters of acceptable behavior. In fact, it involves EXTRA food, so it's okay by me.)

But this ... this was bad. Bad in the way poison ivy over 40% of your body is bad. Bad in the same way watching the chef walk out of the restroom without washing his hands--after finishing your meal--is bad. I ran out of water before mile 6, and lost all energy midpoint at mile 8. I started bad, and then, with great determination and digging deep down into the bottom of whatever will I have, got steadily worse.

I actually walked the last mile and half. Well, if by "walk" one means limping along, cussing inventively under my breath, and cataloging all the bits of me that hurt--many of which, may I take this opportunity to say, I had no idea I even had, and would happily have donated to someone else.

I actually didn't want to count it as my very first double-digit run. For one thing, it wasn't a 10-mile run. It was an 7-mile run, a one-mile limp, and a 2-mile crawl. (I wonder if it's a sort of triathlon?) I was considering logging it as a 7 or 8 miler, and happily repressing the memory of those last 2 miles.

My husband, however, pointed out that I actually did cross the finish line, metaphorically speaking. Well, and literally speaking. And he pointed out that, at a race, crawling across the finish line counts. But it feels vaguely like cheating. Like winning the Daytona 500 under a caution flag. Like winning the World Series because of an umpire error. Like crawling across a finish line ...

I suppose I should take heart in that I didn't--as my body was crying out for me to do--just lay down on the path and quietly expire, or at least take a short nap.

Well, I did do 10 miles. My first double digit. I hated almost every step, and several times thought that stopping would be an excellent idea, but couldn't, because my car was still 3 miles away (yet another reason to do an out-and-back, because after the halfway point, you really have no choice. No choice at all.)

So, yes, I logged it as 10, with an average pace of 14:15. I walk faster then that, but hey, it's done. Now I will work on forgetting the last half, and remembering only the first few miles, when I was almost enjoying myself.

I suppose that all runners either have had a Very Bad run, or will have a Very Bad run. I've had mine. In a way, this, too, was a Rite of Passage, and allows my entry into that circle of runners ... "Oh, you think THAT'S a bad run? Well, let me tell you about the time I was running with iron boots on, uphill the whole way ... it was the M.C. Escher half marathon, and we figured we could finish before the hurricane really hit ..."

But I've since gone on to run other days. I ran a 5k (only 3.1 miles) and set a new personal best, only a few days later. And I'm running better then ever.

Why? Because in the depths of my misery were some valuable lessons:

  • Sometimes just finishing is enough;

  • The only one you are competing with is yourself;

  • Only the goals you set for yourself have any real meaning;

  • The will to win is less important then the will to train to win;

  • It's better to finish last then not race at all.

And most important:

  • The bad days make the best stories.

Another milestone (pardon the pun) completed ...

Darlene and her family have had much better days since! Wow! (ed.)

Darlene Pineda is a Contributing Editor of The CEO Refresher, co-author of 1001 Ways to Wow Your Customers, Vice President Retail Operations of High Performance Retail, customer service specialist and breakthrough trainer! Contact Darlene by e-mail: Dypineda@aol.com

Many more articles in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2007 by Darlene Pineda. All rights reserved.

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