Run YOUR Race – Running Life Lesson #6
“Run your race, Erick, run your race!” I heard that phrase from my Dad more times than I can remember back in high school. By my senior year, I had been running and competing for nearly a decade. I explored the State of Indiana competing in various road races and traveled the U.S. racing in sanctioned events and attending exclusive running camps. Eventually, running led to full ride college scholarship offers.
My running career started when I was eight years old and wanted to enter in a small local race with my Dad. My Dad and I would enter the same races and he would finish ahead of me and then wait for me at the finish line to cheer me on, but eventually my Dad stopped running and would be on the sidelines cheering me on and taping hours of video of my various competitions. As many runners know, you go into a “zone” when you are in the heat of a hard fought race. I could not hear anything or anyone around me, but I could always pick out my Dad’s voice from various stages of the course. My Dad had many sayings he would yell out at me, but the one I heard often was “Run your race!” A simple phrase, yes, but there is a lot of wisdom behind it.
I practiced hard and was well coached throughout my career. I knew what my body could do in a race and I always had a well thought out plan for each competition, but many times my plan would go awry when the pack of competitors went out too fast or started too slow. Whenever I allowed myself to get sucked into whatever the pack was doing or if I went out too fast with another runner, I was usually disappointed with the results. In races where I did not follow my race plan and abandoned my training, I would have sub-par results and would finish the race frustrated and disappointed.
Life is a race, a long race with many twists and turns. Everyone has certain talents and gifts that are unique and of value to the world. Many times, we can get distracted and submit to someone else’s goals or go down a path that was not meant for us. Whenever I find myself getting off track in my life, I think of what my Dad would say, “Run your race, son!”
Here are some thoughts on staying focused in your life:
1. Ask yourself, “Why?” This is a powerful exercise. You can get busy “doing” and forget about why you are doing the things, that in the end, don’t really matter.
2. Write down your goals and have them posted where you can see them every day. I know you hear this a lot, but there is a reason that many folks advise in writing down goals, because it works! Magic happens when you get your goals out of your head and onto paper. Don’t start another day without a set of goals written down.
3. Associate with people that are positive and in alignment with what you are working to accomplish in your life. I usually had an idea of the capabilities of my competitors before a big race. I would always identify a few runners that I would use as bench marks during a race. If I knew a guy was prone to going out too fast, then I made sure I avoided him. Avoid people that will not be a good influence on you.
4. Trust your plan. Life can be harsh and it can be easy to become weary and be tempted to quit or change your plan. Don’t do it! Trust your instincts and desires and continue to pursue your dreams and goals.
5. Have at least one good mentor in your life. Every athlete needs a good coach and everyone needs a good mentor. A mentor is your accountability partner and will ensure you stay on track and have the necessary resources to succeed.
Where are you going with your life? Are you running your race or someone else’s race? How are you going to get back on track? These are great questions that you must ask yourself and clearly answer. Life can be a wonderful experience with a chance to leave a lasting legacy, as long as you continue to run your own race. Thanks Dad!