Be Present: A Lesson In Running

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since we were all stuck inside fighting through the mental, physical, and emotional anguish of Covid-19.  While this was an extremely uncertain and tragic time in our lives, many people were able to find some silver linings in the storm cloud that was the pandemic.  

Some people started businesses, got married, had children, or found a new passion or hobby.  I fell into that last category, and the hobby that I found was running.  This newfound passion has been extremely interesting and has provided several teachable moments for me.  People often use the concept of a race as a metaphor for life, and it works.  My most recent life lesson experienced during running came from the last 5K I ran.  There were a few of the GSD Factor attributes at work, but the one I want to focus on is Be Present.

For the sake of brevity, I have to omit several details and jump right into the race.  As with most races I’ve run, there were a couple of runners who were running at the same pace as me, so we kept passing each other.  One lady in particular, however, kept passing me, and I her.  After a while, this back-and-forth started to annoy me for one main reason:  this woman would run for a few minutes and then walk for a few minutes.  That bothered me because I was continuously running, and just when I thought I had left her in the dust, she would start running again and blow right past me.  

After about the third cycle of this happening, I realized there was a lesson in all of this, and I needed to be present enough to notice it.  This race was about me and not this woman.  I was too busy focusing on beating her rather than just running – and enjoying – my race.  I don’t know about other runners, but I found my passion for running because it was a way to challenge myself.  No matter how many other people are running, my goal is never to beat another person but to “beat” myself, which may mean getting a faster time, feeling better while I run, increasing my distance, etc.  

I had to accept the fact that this woman might be faster than me, even if she wasn’t running the entire time.  None of that had anything to do with me because I wasn’t there to beat her.  I didn’t know what her goals or limitations were, but I did know what mine were.  The only race that should matter to me is mine.  

There were so many other life lessons I gathered from this race, but this one was, by far, the most impactful.  I’m glad I had enough presence of mind to see it, and ultimately overcome my frustration to finish the race, exceed my goal, and achieve my second-fastest 5K time to date.  

I hope that you, too, will remember to be present in challenging situations.  If you find yourself getting frustrated or anxious at times, take a moment to observe your surroundings.  Ask yourself, “What are the lessons to be learned from this?”  I can almost guarantee that there will be something valuable sitting right in front of you.  Don’t miss it.