Friday, February 26, 2010

Humility and Respect

Running has taught me a lot of things, but some of the best lessons aren't the obvious "how to overcome"  typetests but rather learning humility, respect and compassion.
I began running to lose weight and get in shape , both of which are pretty typical goals. At my first 5k, I was an excited guy giving it 100% and feeling awesome about myself and my goals. As a Couch To 5k 'graduate' my goal then was simply to  to run 3.1 miles as fast and hard as I could, with maybe having fun as a backup plan.
So there's me in 2008, wearing cotton shorts, an analog watch, a cotton t shirt, and a windbreaker.
Chafe city for anything other than a 5k, but I was a n00b and just starting out. Worse, I was a n00b and even though I pride myself on being an open-minded guy, I passed judgment on people based on ridiculous criteria like appearances. I remember thinking as I lined up "Oh I can beat him, oh she's a bit heavy, I can totally beat her!" "She's got a stroller, get out of my way later lady" etc etc etc.
Along with my well deserved feeling of accomplishment of that first race, I also had a spoonful of prideful ignorance. It took my next race or two for me to really open my eyes.

I remember training for a race and feeling really good about myself. I think by this time I had also progressed to wearing wicking shirts and in that short time felt a bit more snobbery. Tragic. If only I knew!The first mile I was huffing and puffing and giving it my all when I hear a woman cheerily cry out "on your left!" (Apparently I was weaving) I gave her a half hearted wave and was dismayed to see her fly by with a huge smile on her face, and a sleeping child in a stroller! "You are doing great!" she exclaimed as she rocketed past me, adding insult to injury to me in my foolish state of mind. Next up, I saw a man in (at least) his 60s surging past on my right and shook my head "was this really happening?" It was and it would continue! For some reason up till this point all my running had been tunnel vision, and now I was looking around and seeing what's really happening. People from all different walks of life coming together to go for it.
When I got to mile 3 and had a chubby guy pass me by I was a changed man.
I knew then that appearances didn't matter and that I needed to pay more attention to Yoda.
"Size matters not" 

I learned humility and respect for my fellow runners of all sizes and shapes and learned to not underestimate runners because bottom line, they are a tough bunch!
I've seen people of all kinds put themselves through hell and back in order to attain goals and seek self improvement. Regular people who don't have a chance in the world to win a race but who give 110% on race day, and I salute them all now as a still foolish but slightly wiser man.
It is easy to get caught up in the trappings of one-upmanship, after all self improvement does stir up feelings of competition and the events ARE called races for a reason. I like to say I never give advice, only share what works for me, but let me share a lesson I learned about people.
Never underestimate a runner on a mission. You might just be eating their dust later!
There's another chapter to this saga and that involves the humility of being injured, but that's going to have to wait. Thanks for reading and may your long runs be awesome this weekend!

1 comment:

  1. haha... "lo, how the mighty have fallen!" Mighty in my mind that is! I had the same thing happen on my 1 & only 5K, I thought I had a fighting chance to win something; later found out the winners were running 5minute miles! doh. Also, this 80+ year old man managed to stay ahead of me the whole time, shuffling along strong & steady. One serving of humble pie, to go! Also, it's a lesson in fitness/nutrition that runners aren't necessarily in the range of fitness I'd like. Health is good & all but I'd also like some muscles & lower body fat, which is where body-weight exercises & diet come in!