Running is one of the greatest professors I have ever had. It has taught me movement, freedom, expression, speed, power, determination, commitment, confidence, and, most importantly, patience. My morning inspiration came from my running partner today, who did my speed work with me at the track. A more experienced and more talented runner, this friend of mine not only leads by example, but also her can-do attitude and simple statements about running have a monumental impact upon me.
Today, as we began our speed sets, Ruth gently instructed me to control my pace, as I have a tendency to go all-out. Hesitantly, I adhered to her coaching, even though my eager impatience to improve my speed makes me impulsive to over-exertion. Half-way through my set, Ruth told me to slow down my pace down significantly, for “confidence comes with patience.” She couldn’t have said it any better, and her statement is all I thought about the next twenty minutes of the run. Ruth’s pacing guidance enabled me to finish the workout faster than when I started it; I held my pace easier than I could have anticipated, and I finished beaming with self-confidence at my body’s ability to succeed when permitted patience.
Life, like speed, becomes easier as we are more patient with ourselves. Speed improves with rest. So does life. Speed is freeing and empowering; life too can and should be the same. I find that we are too hard on ourselves, too impatient for quick improvement, and too quick to get disheartened when we have an “off-day.” Running is like a doctor and a professor all rolled up into one for me — the more I run, the healthier I become physically, mentally and emotionally, and the more I run, the more I learn about life and about myself. Endurance runners, runners like Ruth, have more heart, backbone, patience, and determination than I could ever possibly understand. For all runners, at all levels, the most pervading commonality that ties us all together is found in this, the understanding that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.