Everyone who’s ever run very much hits a point when they can’t but talk about the parallels between life and running. I’m going to try not to be a cliche, but I’m at that point, and I want to share some of the parallels with you.
Parallel #1. I take my advice from career runners! Something that struck me about running was how frequently people who’ve never run try to advise me. People who’ve never lost a toenail think they know what kind of shoes I ought to have and which sort of product I should buy to prevent future toenail losses. I have a friend who is pretty much a career runner, and I trust what he tells me about running. Because he knows.
The same is true about life. I take my advice from career runners. A pastor of mine (from a really long time ago) used to tell this story about a conversation he overheard at the gym once.
Guy #1: I’m having some issues with my wife. Here’s what they are.
(Guy #1 lists his issues).
Guy #2: Okay. I’ve been married three times, so I know exactly what you should do.
That simultaneously breaks my heart and makes me laugh. If I want to be married 3 times, I’ll take advice from the man at the gym. But if I want to run that (or any other) race well, I take my advice from career runners.
2. I don’t care what you say! Tortoises are COOL! – One of the best things about running a 200-mile race is that I knew I’d be aiming for a steady pace rather than a short burst of speed. Unfortunately, there’s something about youth, that anxiously desires to sprint the Ragnar… and life. I feel like Tortoise surrounded by a million Hares all yelling, “Why are you such a party-pooper? You have to stay up with us to watch this movie! You’re so uncool.” To which I reply, “Life is the Ragnar, and I’m going to bed. Because going to bed is cool, because I want to win the race… and you know what wins the race? Slow and steady wins the race. Winning races is cool. Eff that – I’m Tortoise and I’m cool.”
3. Don’t Pressure Your Teammates – Can you imagine 36 hours (or close to it) of 5 people pressuring you to run faster? Here you are – sleep-deprived and in all other ways spent, and the jerk who’s supposed to be on your team expects you to run faster because he’s tired and wants to get home sooner. Okay, that didn’t happen at the Ragnar, but I feel like that’s happening to me in life lately. I feel like lazy teammates are asking me to pick up their miles so they can sit in the van and eat peanut butter M & Ms… Okay – it’s not that bad. But the point is that the team gets along a lot better if the runners don’t pressure each other. If each runner runs his best and gives his teammates an encouraging fanny-pat every now and then, everything goes better.
4. So what if something fun happened in the other van? – Van 1 (for Ragnar, teams are divided into two vans) seemed to have a lot of fun, which makes me really happy. I was in van 2, but two of the people I love most in the world were in van 1, and I’m glad they experienced some cool stuff. Some pretty fun stuff happened in my van too, and none of that is invalidated because van 1 had fun. I’m not sitting around thinking: I can’t believe they did that without me. Clearly they don’t love me anymore because they had so much fun without me. First of all, I had fun without them too (yeah… sorry guys) but I’ll bet they aren’t sitting around in a pool of urgency, paranoia, and self-doubt because I had fun without them.
Sometimes Nearly all the time, my friends wallow in that pool and intentionally fling pool particles at me as I walk past. If I wasn’t such a fierce fighter, they’d probably grab my ankles and wrestle me completely into their pool so as not to be alone (misery loves company, right?)… ANYWAYS… Point: Be happy when cool stuff happens in van 1 – without you. It’s okay.