The only thing worse than the first few weeks of running is starting with a friend who is a “natural.” My friend was Courtney and to this day I am still bitter.
While I drug myself through the neighborhood in shame, Courtney opted to train on the treadmill. She was with me at the first 5k, but at that time neither of us really knew split from fartlek, so I wasn’t aware she had stinking lungs like Lance Armstrong.
At our second race, I expected to steamroll passed her because the treadmill is a lousy substitute for pavement. I thought. About two seconds after the gun fired she was gone. I didn’t see her again until the finish line whence she was sucking on an orange slice and cheering for me. Evil freak of nature…
Over the course of months I worked very hard to catch her. I tried everything to make me better. It didn’t. Instead, I learned two valuable running lessons.
The first was not comparing. Nothing killed my drive more than feeling like I would never catch Courtney. It wasn’t fair. I worked just as hard. No harder. How long could she blaze past me? Finally, one day I got my answer. It was “forever.” The truth is that some people really are born to run. Sometimes to be happy yourself, you have to just let them go.
The second lesson was time. I was nearing college graduation and there wasn’t much of it left after classes, homework, and my job. Before, I sort of thought a person could toss in a few miles here and there and still get better. After months of this, I wondered what would happen if I formally regimented myself to the cause. I tried all methods: training journals, new workout gear, music, lake runs. Ugghhh. Something was still missing. Something more compelling than my own strong will.
It wasn’t until after collecting my diploma and landing a teaching job nearby that I got my first running windfall. She was cute, quiet, and disciplined.
And she changed my life.
2 weeks ago