Yesterday I really didn’t feel like going for a run.
I couldn’t run in the morning because my daughter Sylvia had her first swim meet, so it was now 2pm and I hadn’t gotten out the door and I was thinking about skipping the 15-mile training run I was supposed to be doing.
I had run 20 miles the day before, so my legs were a little tired. I had skipped lunch so that I wouldn’t be running on a full stomach, so I was hungry. We had been sitting all morning at the swim meet, so my legs were stiff.
As I moped around the house and thought about all the reasons I didn’t really feel like running, I began to think about the swim meet.
Sylvia was pretty anxious about her first meet. She’s only been swimming on a team for a couple months and decided to sign up for one event at the meet, just to see what it was like. Well, her coach had other ideas and signed her up for seven events over two days.
In her first event on Sunday, Sylvia’s goggles slipped off as she dove in, but she kept on swimming. Half-way through the heat the goggles ended up turned sideways over her eyes and she had to stop. In her second event she was disqualified half way through for an improper turn and was clearly upset and frustrated. After talking with her coaches, she left the pool deck to talk to me.
She was on the verge of crying, said her stomach hurt and that her coach said she could skip her last two events and leave for the day if she wanted to… and she was ready to go. After giving her love and emotional support, I talked with her about not quitting. Her next event was freestyle, her favorite stroke, and I encouraged her to get back in the pool, talk with her teammates and keep trying. I reminded her that it wasn’t about winning, or even going fast. This was her first meet and she should just soak up the experience and learn from it. If she could just complete her events, she would be building confidence and character and would feel the satisfaction that comes from not giving up.
I even got her to chuckle when I told her that one day, when she was a senior swimmer and saw a new teammate struggling at their first meet, she could put her arm around her and say, “You think you’re having a hard time, let me tell you about my first meet!”
Sylvia got back in the pool, swam a personal record in the 100 freestyle and completed her last event! Not only did she make herself and her parents proud, but her coach told her if there was an award at the meet for overcoming challenges and persevering, she would have won it.
As I thought about the day, I thought about what kind of example would I be setting if I didn’t get out and train. Sylvia powered through an incredibly challenging day where she wanted to quit, but she rallied and learned something about herself in the process.
I pulled on my running clothes and shoes and ran out the door before I could change my mind.
So, how was my 15-mile run with tired legs, a growling stomach and a bad attitude? It was absolutely amazing! The weather turned out to be perfect, I never bonked from lack of food, I saw two people I knew, ran into an impromptu David Bowie parade on the Beltline, made a cool #runography photo and my legs felt great! I felt so good, in fact, that I kept speeding up with each mile until I ran mile 15 in seven minutes flat, then I tacked on an extra mile to cool down.
Deep down I know that some of my best days running have been the days I really didn’t feel like going out the door, and that is where my advice to Sylvia came from… I just had to remember to take my own advice.