Last weekend I was at my son’s basketball game when a good friend asked me about my running.
“Hey Willie, how are you doing today” he asked.
“Great Coach Mac! It’s Saturday! How are you” I responded.
“I am great also! Did you go running this morning” he asked me.
“Yes” I said.
“How far did you go today” he asked me.
“Today I ran the farthest I have ever run before. I ran 13.43 miles” I replied.
“Wow! I don’t know how you do it” he told me.
“Recently I joined a running group and they have helped me a lot” I stated.
“How are you able to run that far and still make it in to basketball in the morning though” he asked.
“Luckily the group I am running with finishes by 7:30 AM so it doesn’t interfere with basketball. We just have to get up really early and I am completely fine with that” I told him.
“But how do you get up so early to go running that far and then have the energy to come in here and spend several hours in the gym” he asked.
“I used to really struggle with that” I said. “I would put off my long runs and not get the miles in I wanted to because I spent so much time in the gym every weekend. Then I started coaching a few players that would on occasion run 5K races prior to coming to basketball. When I found out they were running these races before basketball and were still able to come in and give a 100% I decided I had no excuse not to run regardless of my busy schedule.”
Over the years I have run off and on. When I was in the military I ran because I had to on a regular basis. After getting out I only ran a handful of times for several years and I got really out of shape. Around 6 years ago I started running again on a pretty consistent basis. I ran a few races however it did not last. I would eventually stop running again just after 4 or 5 months. Since then I have started running again off and on but it would never last long. About a year ago I started up again and have been running ever since and don’t plan to stop.
Even though I feel I am committed to running and have been doing a pretty good job this past year I have still struggled at times. There have been times where I have let myself get too busy and not run for a week or two. I have not had the most disciplined schedule and have not always had the energy to run when I know I should. I have been hurt some and have had to take some time off. I have also not always pushed myself as hard as I possibly could. Luckily no matter the setbacks I have faced this past year I have always found a way to overcome them and get back on track in a short period of time.
Throughout the year I have worked to improve as a runner and in order for me to do that I have had to try to learn as much as I can. A lot of the learning has come from doing. However I have also read some books, sought out some assistance from friends that have a lot more experience than me, recently joined a running group, and learned from some of the positive behaviors I have seen in others like what I shared with Coach Mac last week.
Looking back I feel I have seen numerous examples to remind me that I have no excuse not to run. However, yesterday I saw an example that truly motivated me, one that I will remember for a long time. Something that I will reflect back on when I feel like I am wavering and coming up with too many excuses on why I feel like I can’t or shouldn’t run.
I was about a half a mile into a 5K race in uptown Charlotte when one of the runners about 10 feet ahead of me caught my attention. As I was running I started to notice something just over the runner’s right shoulder. At first I was not sure what it was because there were a couple of runners in between us and he was partially blocked from my view. I picked up my pace a little and as I passed the runners in front of me I was able to clearly see the runner along with the object he was carrying. It was a white stick about 5 feet long that he held out in front of him to make sure he did not run into anything as he ran. The runner was blind!
I could not believe it. I immediately started to look around to see if anyone was running with him. There were a lot of people around us because it was a race however no one appeared to be keeping pace with him as if they were running together. I looked back at the runner and realized if it was not for the stick he was carrying I would have never realized he was blind. He ran with a good strong stride and with confidence. The sunglasses he wore would not have gotten my attention because a lot of people wear them when they run. I often do myself.
As I continued to run I thought about the challenges he must have gone through and overcome in order to be able to run the way he was while not being able to see. I am sure it was very difficult and took some time. In seeing him I am also sure it was well worth it.
Today as I reflect on what I saw yesterday I feel very thankful. Actually I feel more thankful than normal. I am thankful for being able to go out and do the things I do like running. But even more I am very thankful that I was able to witness what I did yesterday. That runner was a true inspiration. I will remember seeing him for a very long time. Not only is he a reminder for me that I have no excuse not to run, he is a reminder that we are capable of doing anything we want in life even when faced with significant adversities.
Life will throw challenges our way and we will have setbacks. Some of them will be so overwhelming that we feel we can’t get past them. As long as we are willing to face them and do what is needed we can overcome them. There is nothing we can’t accomplish if we truly want to.