There is nothing like the first race of the year to get off on the right foot. Spring itself, is a symbol of new beginnings. Just the spirit of the season gives the feeling of a fresh start.
Whether it’s a 5k, half marathon or ultra, the first race of the season is a great opportunity to take stock of where you are at, and where you need to improve. All runners need a base level or a benchmark from which to plan workouts and measure progress. It will give you a sense of where your pace is at, as well as helps you get over the pre-race jitters if you haven’t been in an organized race for a while. These races also serve as a reminder to run at your own pace, not to start too fast and to focus on the path ahead, not the other runners around you.
Beyond the technical aspects of training, I believe there’s a life lesson to be found in every race. Sometimes it’s in the training leading up to it. Sometimes it’s on the drive to the start line, as it was for me on Sunday.
On the drive across the bridge to the WEST VAN RUN, I was listening to a message by STEVEN FURTICK. It’s normal for me to listen to a sermon on Sundays, but I didn’t realize that this one would contain two major lessons that would help me reach a personal best.
THE FIRST LESSON: WITHOUT AN INNER DRIVE, YOU ARE FINISHED.
The feeling of fans cheering for you is a high for many marathoners. At large races such as Boston or Chicago, the streets are filled with spectators watching you go, offering encouragement along the route.
On this early March day, there was snow mixed with rain. The streets were empty except for a few family and friends.
There were some cheers, but they weren’t for me. They were for people beside me, ahead of me or behind me. This started to throw me off my focus. The negative thoughts began to pour in. Maybe I don’t belong here, I began to think. I was very discouraged.
I honed in on a message from the sermon. You haven’t even walked 2 miles, you need to keep going, but it might not be easy, but God’s best is at the finish line.
You can’t judge a 7-mile race on the second mile. The best is yet to come.
I’m happy to say, I was able to tune out the voices of negativity and not give up.
THE SECOND LESSON: DO IT FOR SOMETHING GREATER THAN YOURSELF
We all need a reason to run. We all need to know our why.
Running was a gift from God in my life. How I run and what I do with my running is a gift I can give back. I know that when I run, I’m doing something for which I was uniquely designed. Running for me isn’t all about competition; it’s about living at the largest potential for which I was created.
Because of this, when I began to feel discouragement, I knew I didn’t want to leave anything behind. I wanted to give it 100%. Not 80 not 90. I wanted to leave it all on the course.
If you’ve just completed your first race of the year, or are getting ready for one soon, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what lessons you can learn from it. At the end of the race, ask yourself
- “How did I do?”
- “What can I learn from this experience?”
- “Did I reach my goal, why or why not?”
- “What do I need to add/take away from my training program to reach my goal?”
Sometimes, you will get a benchmark from which to measure your results. But if your heart is open to it, you might receive much more.