By Eric Beach
Since running my last triathlon, my calf muscle has been giving issues. At times I can’t seem to run more than a mile before a sharp pain reduces me to a walk, or light jog. I’ve tried to rest and ice it, slow down my pace, and even not run. Nothing has made a lasting impact. At mile one, the pain returns. At the 1-mile mark, my leg seemingly becomes unhealthy.
Yesterday, I needed to run. I needed a physical outlet. I’ve been reading about proper running form and had some new things I needed to try. It was 23 degrees yesterday morning when the time came to run. The first mile burned my lungs with cold, but I felt alive! But, after that first mile, the sharp pain jolted through my leg. I stopped and walked. I was frustrated but calm.
I asked myself, “What is going on!?!” Unsatisfied with walking I started to run again. I shortened my stride, doubled my cadence, and looked at the road, 20 feet ahead of me. With these things and only slightly bending my knee as I ran, I was able to finish the second mile. Setting out that morning, all I wanted to do was finish a 2 mile run.
I felt good about it. I didn’t finish without pain, but I finished. My pace was slower than I would have liked. In the past, I hated any regression, but now I see it differently. Here’s what I learned yesterday morning.
I tend to live in the future, but stare at the ground in front of me. My thought process is a little like this. “I want to finish an ironman and help others compete in the sport I’ve come to love. But, my knee is preventing me from running more than a mile. My dream then, is impossible. I am hopeless.”
I disqualify myself rather than step back and reevaluate my circumstance. Maybe I should run slower for a while instead of just quitting. I had been running a 5K in the 23-minute range. Maybe I need to run it in the 27-minute range until I’m stronger and understand the origins of my pain. That’s ok! Setbacks aren’t closed doors. Setbacks are more like hurdles, and hurdles were designed to be overcome.
Whatever dream I have, and there are several, will undoubtedly come with setbacks and hurdles. The question isn’t if or when, it’s what are you willing to overcome in pursuit of your dream.
Don’t stare at the ground on the way to your dream. You won’t see the hurdle coming and you will fall hard. I promise.
Don’t mistake the temporary for the permanent. Slowing down for a time doesn’t equal failure if it helps you ultimately get you to your dream.
Overcoming the obstacle, that thing you feel if attempted would overwhelm and kill you, requires success and failure, sprints and walks, and hurdles… A lot of hurdles.
Nobody wins a race because they were comfortable. They win because they committed to what was required to overcome the hurdles. They new the cost’s, weighed them and decided their heart was willing to pay the price. They showed up to the race wounded, bearing their scars and appeared comfortable because the physical race is the easy part.