So, Bruce and I, the two “elders” of Metro Run and Walk, were working together the other day – a rare occurrence, but one we both enjoy. While being close in age, we have a diversity and divergence of life’s experiences between us, and enjoy bantering back and forth, swapping lies and war stories. We usually joke that when Helen and Mark leave us in charge of the store – it’s tantamount to the lunatics running the asylum.
One of the things we do have in common is a shared interest in music, and we were talking yesterday about the genius of some of our favorite artists. Dylan and Springsteen came to my mind – two titans of their times, each speaking to their generation’s Zeitgeist. (And we both agreed that while both are genius poets, Dylan still can’t hold a tune!)
That afternoon, on the way home, I put some Springsteen on the car stereo, and a line from his song “Better Days,” from the “Lucky Town” album resonated: “It’s a sad man, my friend, who’s living in his own skin and can’t stand the company.” What on earth does this have to do with anything regarding Metro Run and Walk, or anything related, you might ask?
Well, I’d been talking earlier in the week with one of my customers who’d recently attempted an Ironman triathlon. We, too, were comparing notes, and she told me of her struggles on the run, ultimately DNF’ing (Did Not Finish) the race. While she’d had a stellar swim and bike, and went into the run well ahead of her goal, she wasn’t able to finish the run. Her hydration was good, her nutrition was good, she felt strong and confident entering the run. Why the DNF then?
She’d done all the work. She’d set appropriate goals (finish the race on her own two feet, within 17 hours, while avoiding the medical tent – the same goals I set for my first). She’d laid out a reasonable, prudent training schedule. She’d worked on her nutrition and hydration throughout her training, ensuring she’d have sufficient fluids and calories and that her GI system would tolerate it. She’d trained hard but intelligently. She was ready.
So what happened? In her own words: “I trained for nearly a year with a group of people, and came to depend on them for encouragement, emotional sustenance – and for company. I did all my long workouts with friends, but during the Ironman, I found myself out on the run course, 12 hours into the race, all alone – and I simply couldn’t go the distance without the support from my “buds.”
In some respects, this is a manifestation of breaking the “nothing new on race day” rule – usually meaning wearing the same clothing, socks, and shoes, and using the same nutrition as during training. As obvious as it may appear, it also means doing some training in as close to “real life” conditions as possible – in this case, conditions simulating “the loneliness of the long distance runner.”
If I’ve ever waited on you at the store, you might have heard me say that the most important muscle to train, and the one most difficult to train, is the one between the ears. From personal experience, I’ve discovered that the old saw “It’s mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” is nevertheless very true. The human mind can will the human body to do unbelievable things. Every week at the store, I encounter customers with stories of accomplishments they’d never considered possible – all through the power of positive thinking. But it requires a focus, a discipline, and a belief in oneself.
One of my favorite quotes is from Theodore Herzl, who said “If you will it, it is no dream.” So, exercise that most important muscle – dream your dream, but will it to happen.
School’s out – watch for kids playing in the street.