“Wherever you are- be all there.” –Jim Elliot
Tears welled up in my eyes as I re-read my note: words of encouragement, love, and support to a dear friend about to run a huge race. I am sappy and get emotional about these things. She had put countless hours and miles into this training cycle and it would all come down to one day and 26.2 miles to, in a sense, prove it. I had run many of those training miles with her and knew firsthand that her mind was focused and her heart was dedicated. I reminded her to put it all out there– it’s all you girl– I’ve got nothin’ but love and respect for ya sister! A number of friends and former teammates would be racing that day as well which, can be exciting, but also add to the pressure to run well and better than the others. We had talked about her race strategy and the fact that she needed to run her race.
This idea, this mantra, run your race, is one I come back to often before and during races and even training runs. To me it means to focus on your abilities, your training, and doing the best you can do that day. However, this is not always easy to embrace. We love our runner girlfriends (a good friend calls us RGFs…brilliant!), we support them, and we want the best for them in running and their lives. But, it can be easy to slip into a pattern of comparing ourselves to them. The thought that, I train with her, so I should be able to race with her, creeps into our head and can cause negativity and self doubt. There can be a fine line between cheering for and competing with our RGFs and getting into a headspace full of envy, comparison, and jealousy. Run your race. Run your race.
Running your race means staying present, honoring the moment, loving yourself and all that your body does for you. I love this idea that Lauren Fleshman, former American track and field athlete, Picky Bars co-founder, and badass mother has talked about on the Running on Om podcast: staying with yourself and staying within yourself. Staying with yourself is the idea that we mindfully stay with our selves, our minds, our thoughts and ideas. We stay in our own heads to think through and rattle around our thoughts to ultimately deal with some of the tough stuff, to find clarity. Fleshman talks about the ways in which we leave ourselves can include drinking, using drugs, a Netflix binge, listening to music- really any type of distraction. This is not necessarily a bad thing and sometimes is a coping mechanism to deal with the hard times we face. However, if we want to tackle the big issues life throws us, if we want to make change in our lives, we must stay with ourselves, we must accompany ourselves on that journey.
Staying within ourselves is to stay inside: to stay within our own skin, to be deep in a place of acceptance and love for self. To run your race. Running truly is a way in which we can practice staying with ourselves and within ourselves. Both are crucial concepts to plowing through life with grace, poise, and self-love. If we can approach challenging training runs and race days with the mantra run your race, we will achieve a sense of calm, peace, and acceptance for where we are that day. Again, this is not always easy, but it definitely beats being in a place of jealousy and comparison because our RGF is faster, or fitter, or a better hill climber. We must tie up our laces from a place within full of content and love for where we’re at that day.
My RGF went on to run an amazing marathon. She totally executed her race plan and had a great day on the course. In fact, all the other RGFs had great races that day as well. They all ran their race and afterward had the opportunity to congratulate and celebrate each other. Here’s to staying within, to honoring ourselves knowing we bring the best we can to each run, to each race. Here’s to loving and celebrating our RGFs because without them, running would get really lonely!