Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lessons Learned: Patience and Diligence

At the conclusion of last week’s Q&A with Bernard Lagat and Kara Goucher, they were both asked for one piece of advice to give to any up-and-coming runners. Be diligent in training, set goals, but don’t think of yourself as a failure if you don’t completely reach your goals. Just because you didn’t get there doesn’t mean you didn’t improve as a runner. You did, you totally did. You just have to be patient and have faith. One day you’ll get there if you train hard, train smart and have patience.
I’m paraphrasing a bit because I don’t remember their exact words, but that was the gist of their message. As I was walking home that night, I thought about how ironic it was that in a sport that celebrates speed, competition, and beating your fellow man to the finish line, the most important lesson to be learned was how to slow down and be patient with yourself. A part of me (albeit a slight part) wondered if that were all a ploy to discourage any aspiring racers from training as hard as they do. Maybe it was all a big USATF marketing campaign to thwart off the competition!
Frankly though, I totally dig their message because I tell myself the same thing after every run that didn’t go as well as planned. So even if I don’t run as fast, as far, or as well as I thought I was capable of, the training itself was still valuable because it is all a process of getting “there”, no matter what or where “there” is. Even though most of my loyal fan base will probably not agree, I am much more lenient and forgiving of myself than I used to be. With knowledge gained through experience, I’ve learned not to let one DNF, DNS, or a particularly bad workout ruin my confidence in my own running. I trust my training and my body enough not to worry about what will happen to me at mile 20 of the Boston Marathon if I couldn’t finish a long run or two a few months before the race. As long as I train hard but smart, and within my own abilities, and not get injured, the sky’s the limit for what can happen in the race. I am certain of that.
As with all good things in life, everything comes to those who wait. Patience and diligence. I believe these are the essential characteristics of a successful miler and marathoner…as best exemplified by Bernard and Kara in the Millrose Games. By their dominant performances, I’m inclined to believe that one day in the way distant future, in a race no one cares about, I can be just as perfect too. Well, here’s to hoping anyway.

13 comments:

joyRuN said...

Ah - patience & diligence. A major character flaw of mine is lacking both of those essential ingredients!

raulgonemobile said...

That's really good advice they passed on.

X-Country2 said...

Such a great lesson. Sounds like those running stars are fast AND wise.

J said...

I think it really is hard to live that message and understand that patience will allow us to become better runners! Our society is so focused on wanting things immediately that its hard to realize that hard work really does pay off now and later.

Andrew is getting fit said...

This is one of the reasons I think running helps to make us better people. There is no quick fix with running. It takes time and dedication.

Running and living said...

In the recent months I have learned the value of those "difficult runs". When I feel sluggish, and things don't go as planned during a run, I remind myself how valuable the experience is going to be during the marathon, when I will have ups and downs, and times when I am going to feel off and slugish. It's good practice, and those tough runs are making me a tougher and stronger runner (and person, I may add).

aron said...

what a great post and sooo true. i am so impatient, but i always have to remind myself that with things like running it doesnt happen over night. at least i have pretty good dedication to outweigh the impatience :)

Susan said...

Thanks for swinging by my blog! I'm training for the Delaware Marathon in May, when it will hopefully be a tad warmer than now! Such good advice about patience and diligence, but definitely hard to follow when a long run (or even a short run!) goes poorly. Good to know the elite experience some of the same things we do.

Cowboy Hazel said...

I think it's important to be patient, but not too patient. Yes, you have to allow for the occasional bad race or bad training run here and there, but it's important not to let yourself settle for those performances day in and day out.

USJogger said...

I'm not a regular reader, but I found your blog from Non-Runner Nancy's virtual race in August. I'm just popping in to tell you that there is another virtual race, in her honor. She is fighting injury, and may have to give up running 4evah! So I'm hosting a virtual race to tell her that our thoughts are with her. The only problem is, I don't have any readers. So basically, I'm comment-spamming you. But it's a good comment spam. I promise. Check out the "Freakishly Flexible 5K" on my blog. And please run.

The Happy Runner said...

I needed to read this post! Thanks for sharing their advice -- and for your comment after my dreary week.

runner26 said...

Great attitude and a great lesson learned! Hope you are not sick like the rest of us!!

sRod said...

Can we talk about publishing a book with all your nuggets of knowledge?

 
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