Four Reasons to Feel Great about Today’s Run

Before I get to the four reasons, I’d like to let each of you know that it was great to see so many people come out today.  You honored your commitment to yourselves, to your goals, to your team, and to Beit T’Shuvah.  Thank you.

I really enjoyed the route and the team effort today, and I hope each of you did as well.  I also saw reasons to celebrate and to feel inspired; and I want to share them with each of you.

  1. We ended with a downhill. Once you got past the hardest section, you had a long gradual downhill on San Vicente to look forward to and enjoy.  Hard work, and then a reward. Instant gratification. Who doesn’t love that?!  And by the way, that long gradual downhill is near the end of the Marathon course, so you’ll really appreciate it on March 19th.
  1. You climbed over 100 feet in less than 1/3 of a mile. That’s impressive, and it’s harder than any climb on the Marathon route, except for one very short hill at mile 4. One more reason to believe you will be successful on Marathon day.
  1. You saw the challenge waiting for you, and you took it on. Nobody quit.  Some of you ran that steep hill, some of you walked it, and everyone got to the top.  Just like anything in life, if you brace yourself for the challenge and pace yourself, you will succeed.
  1. You have seen that when you push yourself a little harder each time you try something, you get better at it. You are getting stronger. You are getting tougher. You are ready for bigger challenges, and you have every reason to believe you will succeed.


What’s In It For You?

In an effort to illustrate my point, let me start off with a story.  Two weeks ago, I ran the Long Beach Marathon in an attempt to qualify for Boston.  Since it takes about 3-4 weeks to fully recover from running that hard, I’m still taking it pretty easy on my runs – shorter distances, slower pace.  Since I really miss the “zone out / moving meditation” experience of my pre-Marathon long runs, I decided on my way home from the Team Breakfast to stop at the beach and do another 5 miles.  I started out slowly, and then picked up my pace a little.  After a while, my legs started to feel like lead.  I didn’t even bother to push myself because I figured I had a built-in excuse.

But then, a guy passed me.  He looked like he was struggling.  His feet were smacking the pavement loud and hard with every step. He was an injury waiting to happen.  My first thought was “Don’t forget to remind the team about how to have a low impact stride”.  My second thought was “This guy has lousy mechanics; he looks like he’s hurting; and he’s faster than I am?! That’s pathetic. I really should be able to keep up with him.”  So, I picked up my pace, caught up to him, and soon we began a conversation. He picked up his pace, and I picked up mine. It was a challenge, but there was no way I would quit. We got faster and faster. We ran our last 1.5 miles together at a pace I didn’t think I could hold this soon after a marathon; and it was 1:30 minutes/mile faster  than what I was doing when I started the run.

So, why am I telling you this?  Because, if I had been running by myself, I would have been perfectly happy to slog along at my slow pace.  I would have taken comfort in my “that’s all I can do because I’m still recovering from a marathon” excuse.  I wouldn’t have done my best.

And that’s why I encourage you to come out for the Sunday runs.  Your team members will inspire you.  They will push you.  They will help you find the strength you didn’t know you had.  They will bring out the best in you. 


The Blessing of Things Going Less Than Smoothly

One of my favorite quotes, and one I try to live by is “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.”  In the real world, it would be nice if everything went smoothly all the time. But it doesn’t.  So, the question is: How will we respond? Will we look for the positive?  How can we use the negatives as a learning experience?

For this Sunday’s run, it would have been great if we had all been familiar with the route and had all found each of the water stops easily.  But that didn’t happen. Rather than do the same routes over and over each year, Anna and I decided to try something new.  Just like in other aspects of life, when you try something new, there are often some bumps along the way; and today was no different.  But let’s look at the bright side.  Those of us at the front of the pack worked together to figure out exactly where the start of the trail was, and we were successful.  When we realized there was some confusion around the location of the turnaround point water stop, we helped each other find it, and we provided extra instruction to ensure that the people who followed got on the correct route heading back.  We worked together as a team to solve problems and support each other.  People complained, and to that I say “thank you”.  I am happy that people felt comfortable enough to share their concerns and give us the feedback we need to make changes and do better next time.

What did go smoothly, as it has every week, is the support of our volunteers and their positive attitude.  We couldn’t do this without you.  And, Amy, thanks again for a great stretching / cool down class.

So to each of you, I say thank you for your willingness to try new things, to voice your opinion, to work together as a team, and to offer your support.   I am grateful for all that you did.


How will you enjoy the journey?

I hope each of you enjoyed the beach route this morning.  Toward the latter part of the season, our routes will be along various segments of the Marathon course so you can familiarize yourselves with the route; but for the first half of the season, we’ll select training routes that give you the opportunity to enjoy what nature has to offer without worrying about traffic. We’ll do more beach runs, and some trails as well. What I hope is that as you train, you are not only thinking about crossing the finish line and achieving your goals, but also enjoying the process of getting there.

While you can certainly spend some time thinking “this is really hard” or “how much longer until it’s over” (we all do that), I would encourage you to simply acknowledge those thoughts, and then move on to something more positive. You can make an effort to experience the run with as many senses as possible.  Take a look at the landscape, feel the breeze, listen to the surf or the birds, smell the trees or the ocean.  You can enjoy the quiet time to look inside and ponder your thoughts, using the time as your “moving meditation”.  You can also use it as a time to connect with your teammates.  You can do any combination of the three, or you can create your own positive experience.

It’s your journey.  You get to choose how you enjoy it.