Road Race in Progress
“Are you going to let a piece of plastic on your wrist determine your self-value?” questioned my track and cross-country coach. He was referring to my watch. Throughout my junior and senior year, I based my identity in my running sports by the time on my watch. It took until this summer for me to truly understand how wrong I was, and that the time on a watch does not define one as a runner.
“The only person you should compare yourself to is the person that you were yesterday.” -Amy Morin
I have not seriously trained for a race or ran over five miles in about three years…so when my brother told me that he and I were going to train for a half marathon this fall, my mouth dropped open. “You want me to train with you?” I asked. “Of course, we will do it together!” he exclaimed. A million negative thoughts flooded into my mind. “The last time I even thought about running that much was in high school. The last time I was in running shape was in high school. The last time I believed in my running capabilities was in high school”….and so on. It was then that I had a decision to make. I could either continue to compare myself to my high school self or embrace who I am today and how far I can still grow in the future.
It was this summer I learned that a runner’s identity should not be determined by time but by the determination to persevere on mile 9 out of 10, by the ambition and drive to live a healthy lifestyle, by the character developed to get back up when feeling discouraged and so on. I admit I have not been able to train how I originally planned. I have had to start over in increasing my miles. I have had several “slow” days. However, I have never loved running as much as I do now. I run not because I have to but because I want to…and that is where growth begins. I am beginning to stop comparing myself to who I used to be, because I know I have grown and have become a better version of myself since then.
Friends and family have been a supportive foundation of unyielding strength along my life’s journey. My younger brother is a significant role model in my life, and he encourages me to accept challenges and persevere. He shows me through his actions by extending kindness and wisdom to younger less experienced “runners.” In the same way we need to extend our hand to those that are around us, to reach our hand behind us and pull someone up who is struggling in their “race,” while also extending our hand forward to reach for mentors who have the desire to invest in us and better our lives. Life is hard; we are not meant to do it alone.
Last Saturday I ran a competitive 5K for the first time in over a year. One of the directional signs said: “Road race in progress.” Our “Road race” is in progress. As long as we do not stop, we are growing. If we only have time to run one mile, complete one task, organize one drawer, then at least we are one mile, one task, and one drawer closer to our goals. In the same way, life is not meant to be a timed race. It is not about how fast you get there but the lessons learned along the way. In a little over a week, I will be running a half marathon. Instead of comparing myself to the “old” me and judging myself based off of a piece of plastic on my wrist, I will be running for the “new” me. So if you are ready, tie your shoes, grab a friend, and let’s GROW.
Stationed by the door,