Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The End of Wishy-Washy

Way back when I was just a young whippersnapper fresh out of college um...3 years ago...at 24 years old, I decided after a year or so of half-hearted clueless training and feeble attempts at new PR's and floating around in the vast lostness that seems to accompany a great many runners looking to continue pursuing their dreams beyond the college running realm but unsure of exactly how go about it, that I would give myself until I was 27 to make something Really Awesome happen. I'm still not entirely sure what exactly I expected that Really Awesome something to be, but I think I was visualizing a bunch of sub-15:00 5k's, or a few U.S. teams, and maybe like a few American Records mixed in here and there for good measure. Well maybe not exactly, but I was definitely going to run some GIANT PR's and win like every race. That was the plan anyway. Actually though, now that I think about it, I don't know why I even picked 27, I guess I just figured 3 years of post-college running seemed like a legitimate amount of time to make Something Awesome happen, and if not, then I would chalk it up to me just grasping at straws and laboring under delusion. But then I realized just the other day that 27 will happen in, oh yeah, like 2 weeks from now, and that my resume' is painfully devoid of everything I was envisioning, but that in spite of that I still love doing it an awful lot. So after a bit of reflection and not much deliberation I have decided to extend my Deadline For Making Something Really Awesome Happen until I am 40 years old instead. However, I think it is time to stop waiting for Something Awesome to come to me.

A fellow running buddy mentioned to me recently that it seems like everyone we know is having some kind of breakthrough; some gigantic PR's and brilliant top-whatever finishes at every National Championship ever invented and that it just looks so darn easy. I agreed for like 2 seconds, but then I realized that they have these breakthroughs because they don't just do the work, which is an obvious necessity, but they put themselves in a position to have breakthroughs as a result of the work. They create the opportunities for themselves to get to a new level by taking a risk and putting themselves out there to compete with the best, even if things have not gone perfectly according to their plans. They don't wait to be invited to a national championship race (even though by now most of them are invited), they make a plan, go out there, make the best with what they've got that day, stick their nose in it, and let the results take care of themselves. And really, isn't creating opportunities to see where we stack up against the best--everyone else and our former "best" selves--the whole reason that we do all of this stuff?

I, on the other hand, feel like I am always waiting. Waiting for opportunity to come knocking, which it's nice when it does, but waiting for it instead of looking for it. I am always waiting to have the "perfect" block of training and waiting to hit better times in workouts than I ever have, then waiting to get enough miles under my belt to feel "in shape," and even after all of those things, waiting for the "perfect" race opportunity to come to me, but then waiting till the last minute to sign up because I think I'll jinx the whole thing and get hit by a bus, trampled by a deer, or catch bubonic plague if I register then book a flight and a room for a race too far ahead of time. Always waiting and hesitating and seeing how training goes for some arbitrary, predetermined amount of weeks that I totally made up, before setting a real goal and committing. But even then it's a tentative goal and a tentative commitment because there IS that possibility that there MIGHT be a hiccup in training, or that run-in with a deer could happen (I mean, there are tons of them around here), and things MIGHT be less than "perfect" leading up to race-day. Heaven forbid. I mean, I know a lot of runners can be slightly controlling and perfectionistic, but this is a little over the top.
Seriously, just look at this guy. He's practically salivating at the idea of sabotaging your next race.

Sometimes it's prudent to wait and to put a particular goal on hold if today it means more steps backwards than forwards, but if you're always waiting for perfection to happen, and for the perfect sequence of events and the perfect alignment of the universe, you WILL be waiting forever. I can attest to this. The "perfect" time is right now. Who's to say that your best race won't happen after more bumps in the road of running than you've ever had, or at the end of a really long comeback trail, or on the heels of a string of less than stellar workouts or when you don't "feel ready"? It wouldn't be the first time.

I feel so smart when I figure these things out all by myself.

I'm pretty sure that this is the part where I'm supposed to throw in some nauseatingly overused quotes about "missing 100% of the shots you don't take" or "in 10 years from now you'll regret the things that you didn't do more than the things that you did," but I won't. You're welcome. But all of this stuff occurred to me as I was looking at what races I want to do in 2013, wondering why there are so many races that I've never tried, and it struck me that I haven't spent much time mixing it up in any of the bigger stuff, and that I haven't created the opportunities for myself to make that Something Awesome happen because I've been so wishy-washy that those opportunities don't even have a chance. So even though I have extended my Deadline For Making Something Awesome Happen, I'm pretty sure that 40 will be here before I know it, so I better get after it and take the MAKING part of all of that just a tad more literally.

Yep. That's all I got. So till next time, take care and comb your hair.

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