Running Heroes Revised

Awhile ago I blogged about my running heroes. People I look up to when training hard or runners who are just generally awesome. I still think all the peeps I wrote about are awesome, but I need to add two folks to the list: Paula Radcliffe and Meb Keflezghi. Both are incredible athletes who worked through injury to acheive incredible things.

So we’ve got Paula. Despite all kinds of stress fractures and mechanical issues she cross trained her booty off to get ready for the olympic marathon. Did she medal? No. But she still finished 13th or something like that. Now, for Paula that was a dissapointment but I mean, the woman finished 13th at the Olympics despite being broken. Incredible. Amazing. This morning when I was riding my bike on my trainer in my living room and feeling bored and frustrated I remembered all the hours that Paula spent cross training prior to the olympics and told myself to shut up.

And Meb. Where do I start with him? First of all, we both went to UCLA so he automatically gets awesome points there (and for the uninitiated UCLA track is nothing short of awesome– particularly in the sprints. I actually had classes with a number of Olympians and ahhh they are just so amazing) and secondly, he had a hip injury that was so severe he couldn’t walk. COULDN’T WALK. Everyone in the running world counted Meb out, decided he was done and moved on. But not Meb. He did what he needed to do, struggled through some rough races and a ton of rehab and in October became the first American to win the New York City marathon in recent history. Sure, he got the glory in New York, but the rest of us didn’t see the hours in rehab, cross training, stretching, icing, painful treatments that I’m sure it took for him to be able to run. That makes his victory that much more incredible and inspiring.

I always appreciated the tenacity of these athletes but I never really understood it. Now, my injury and my potential are roughly 1-2% of what Paula and Meb experienced. My salary and life don’t depend on my running and I’m never going to the Olympics. Well I might go, but I won’t be an athlete 🙂 But! Being forced to cross train and take a break off of the running has allowed me to appreciate their tenacity with fresh eyes. The fact that they worked through their issues and came out on the other side is amazing. Physically it’s amazing but I am so impressed they kept it together mentally and never threw in the towel.

I guess what I’m saying is that being injured allows you to test your self-discipline in a whole new way. It’s quite easy to be disciplined when you get to do something you love. Going out for a run never feels like punishment. Sitting on my bike at 6am, inside, sweating all over my floor watching Vh1 does. I’ve always prided myself on being a person that’s very disicplined and does what they need to do. I found out this morning when I kept trying to hop off of my bike after 15 minutes that maybe I’m not.

So I’m viewing this time as a chance to work on my mental toughness. To do what I don’t want to do. One of my favorite quotes, and one I repeat often, is “I do what I do not want to do so that I can do what I want to do.” I can’t remember where I heard that, but I love it. Do I want to cross train and work on core strength? Um, no. I’d gladly pass. Am I going to do it anyway? Yes. Athletes work hard. Athletes do what they don’t want to do. That’s what separates the good from the great– the ability to do the hard, boring and unpleasant stuff. So, for now, I’ll be here. Riding my bike inside (and out once the weather allows), doing yoga and endless hip strengthening exercises. I don’t expect to run the olympic marathon or to win NYC but maybe, just maybe, I’ll come out the other side citius, altius, fortius. (That’s a prentious way of saying stronger, higher, faster and also the Olympic theme)

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4 responses to “Running Heroes Revised

  1. Hi there, I am so glad I found your blog and this post! At the moment I am having a bit of a motivation problem, and really needed to read that stuff about working hard. I have been in a bit of a funk for a few weeks, which is such a contrast to the focus I had last year. I loved this bit in particular” athletes do what they don’t want to do…..” Cheers, and I look forward to reading more!

  2. I love your attitude Amy–you encourage me to face the hard things in my life with courage and discipline, too. I will think of you tomorrow when I’m tempted to give into temptation or to be soft on myself…. Thanks!

  3. Paula Radcliffe is my favorite! Did you know she ran 5 miles THE DAY BEFORE giving birth?

  4. I have a list of Paula’s mile splits when she broke the world record in London a few years ago, put into an ad by Nike. I think it was her 21st mile that was the fastest. The 21st! She is incredible. I hope she can get the Olympic medal to finish off the collection in 2012 on home turf.

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