I ran a 5KM race with my niece yesterday. No training. Haven’t run since last September. I survived, but I certainly didn’t thrive. I was super grateful for my niece’s patience and loyalty to run with me the whole time despite the fact she was capable of running much faster and finishing much earlier!
While running and I are not the best of friends, I have learned so much from my short foray into the sport (I took a clinic for the first time a year ago and learned how to run properly as an adult and then ran four 5KM races last year). Yesterday I was reminded of one of the most profound lessons I have learned about myself.
Before the lesson, you gotta hear the hilarious way in which it was learned!
So I was signed up to run in the September 2013 Army Run. By myself. I was super excited for the dog tags that were the ‘medals’. How cool is that?! I was LATE getting to the race. Like pushing my way through the crowd at the starting gate and hopping the fence to be in with the runners near the starting line with less than 90 seconds until the gun went off kinda late. And I am not an experienced runner, so I just assumed I needed to get in that starting pen with the 5,000 other 5KM runners before the gun went off.
What dawned on my as soon as my feet hit the ground and just before the gun went off was – Oh $hit, these people are at the front and looking mighty fit! They are going to run this in 20 minutes. I’m more at the 35 minute pace for a 5KM! I tried to push my way back to avoid getting trampled but I got met with angry stares and since we were all crammed in like sardines anyways, it was futile. With less than 30 seconds to go, I had little choice at this point!
The gun goes off! The race begins. The first 500 metres is pure uphill. I’m running with the leaders and thinking, wow, this is not so bad! Maybe I will keep up for a while and set a new personal best?! About a kilometre into it I’ve been passed by quite a few, but I’m also keeping pace with quite a few fast people and definitely running at a personal best.
That is when it dawns on me!
I was afraid to get trampled and look bad, so I found it within me to pick up my pace and at least keep up respectably so.
I was also inspired not by people competing or challenging me (I have a strong negative reaction to people insinuating that I am doing something ‘wrong’ and if I just did it their way, I would somehow be ‘right’.) but rather I was thoroughly inspired to action by being in the company of people who had set a higher standard for themselves than I had previously thought possible for myself.
I ran almost 3km at a personal best and then *insert excuse here* I started to slow way down back to my pace from before. But somehow I don’t think that race was about setting a personal best. I don’t think it was even about running. I will never ever forget that lesson. What a profound moment to realize what will fuel my own motivation to grow, play, expand and evolve.
I won’t thrive in an environment of challenges, or judgments, or comparisons. No, when I am trying out something new, or playing in fields that I know relatively little about, I am going to be at my best when I position myself in the company of people who have set high standards for themselves. People who’s idea of normal pace is leaps and bounds above what I thought was possible!
The power of positioning! How are you motivated? What inspires you into action? How can you use the answers to those two questions to see some results in an area of life that is important to you? Around whom, around what, and/or where can you position yourself?