There are certain times in the year where training is a grind. The weather is crap, the training is hard and the race season is still months away. This is where the hard work is done that will ultimately pay the dividends in the form of PBs and “W’s” later this spring and into the summer. That time is right now.
I love Mohammed Ali’s quote, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.
It’s true. The life of a middle and long distance runner, or any amateur athlete for that fact, is unglamorous at best. We spend countless hours, days, months and years of our lives toiling away, far away from any blue ribbons and cheering crowds, and many of these days, depending on where you live, are spent training in terrible, awful weather…rain, hail, snow, wind, you name it!
“Do you run in the rain?” – I love this question that I often get asked from friends, family and co-workers. The answer is “Yes, of course”… and then I remind them that I live in Vancouver where it rains 168.9 days of the year (Thanks Wikipedia for that stat). If I didn’t run on a rainy day I wouldn’t be much of a runner. We do all this for a few chances each year to test ourselves against the clock and the competition. Last year it felt like I raced every weekend and I still only raced 11 times on the track. 11! That’s 11 days out of the 365 days in a year that I dedicate to this sport. Why!? Why do we put ourselves through this? It surely can’t be for the 4% body fat, or the short shorts.
Well for me it’s that very fact of having a dream and the act of pursuing it. Christopher Hadfield, the Canadian Astronaut / Rockstar was in town last week for a speaking gig which, I was fortunate enough to attend. First off, I have to say what an amazing dude this guy is. Not only is he an incredibly intelligent individual who has lived a truly unique life, but he is also one hell of a public speaker! That night the Orpheum Theatre was packed with people of all ages and he blew the doors off of that beautiful building. Over the course of the evening he had countless good words of advice but, the thing he said which resonated with me most was, that he believes everyone needs a dream. For Chris Hadfield the dream he had since he was a little boy was to one day become an Astronaut and to go into outer space. He pursued that dream his entire life, and he was fortunate enough that his dream did come true but, the point he made which I loved was, that it doesn’t matter if a dream comes true or not because the real gold is found in the pursuit of that goal, no matter how big or small.
I completely agree with this. For me personally one of my major dreams in life is to compete for Canada at the Olympic Games. I have had this dream ever since I was a 9 year boy running with the Norwesters Track Club in North Vancouver. And although I have yet to achieve this goal, it has given me a sense of purpose and direction throughout my entire life. This dream kept me on the straight and narrow through high school, it provided me my University education, it introduced me to the love of my live and it continues to drive me to be a better person today. Now I still hope that this dream will come true in 2016, but I take solace in knowing that even if it doesn’t come true my life will have been better for it. I may not be rich with money in my pocket, but through this often unglamorous pursuit I’ve become rich with life experiences, travelling around the world, meeting some of the world’s greatest athletes, coaches and people and most importantly learning more about myself in the process.
Here’s wishing you all the good luck in the world for your pursuits in life!