“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
Its Tuesday, so now that I’m back on Instagram, you know what that means.... side by side pictures displaying a person on the left who was slow or sad or over weight, and a new version of that same person who is fast, and happy, and skinny. These are the images that the algorhythm shows us because they are extremely popular. We can’t help it! Success stories are addicting and make us all feel good and remind us that it is possible! But behind every success story, there are lots of failures.
My “story” in particular this year (and last) has been failure after failure after failure... but just because I don’t have a visual representation of my transformation doesn’t mean it’s not happening! I am in a constant state of evaluation and change (which is why I prefer “transforming Tuesday” since it never really stops). What I have always loved so much about running is the purity and simplicity of it. There’s no judgement involved (usually!... that year Alison Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh tied for third was unusual). No one to determine a fair play or to award points based on artistry. A runner couldn’t lose a race for their hair style or how they smiled like a figure skater can. A runner can’t lose a championship because a referee calls a foul or a penalty flag is thrown. Being from the sports dynasty, New England, it’s exhausting to hear that sports teams only won because of X, Y, Z... and I’ve always been so glad that when you win a race, generally, nothing is questioned-you’re the champion. When you run a certain time, that’s the time. We can talk about the depth of competition, humidity, wind, or course elevation factors; but in general, what you achieve is quantifiable and that’s IT.
For me, my place, my time; these things were so largely tied to my identity for as long as I could remember. If I am not performing at a certain level, who am I? Since I started running very competitively at such a young age (12), I didn’t really have the maturity to see running as a separate part of me. With each injury across the 20+ years I learn how to unravel that deep correlation I made; I’m only successful if I can do this goal.
(note-Ive been transforming on the inside, not the outside (but to be honest, on the outside too! It was a long Easter season and I loved me ALLLL the Cadbury eggs!)
There’s always been two parts to my why. One part has been the external: to show others what I can do. That has evolved over time. At first it was very much from an angry adolescent “I’ll prove it to you” sort of place. Then a more ego driven version of that- once I proved I was the best* I challenged people to come after me. But now I mostly just want to be able to show my girls what I can do so they can later believe what they can do.
(* The best mostly meant that I won my district. I loved to won districts. This was before I had the internet and I had to use the newspaper as my only source to find out who else was out there.)
Then theres the Part Two of my why, the internal, how I feel when I run. This cosmic connection with the ground that I get. Feeling the roots and rocks under my feet. Listening to the gravel, the sloshing through puddles. I love to feel my heart beating hard enough that I can’t hear anything else... sometimes It feels like there’s not enough space for my lungs and heart in my chest. I love to memorize the way the sun bursts through the trees and how sometimes you can actually see the rays coming through the clouds. I love how hills look impossible from far away, but then you get to the top and realize it’s not that bad.... and yes, (sometimes more than anything else) I love to run in the snow. Wish I could make it melt as soon as I’m “over it”, but sometimes the snow is so magical! Especially when you can see your breath and it gets stuck to your lashes and your cheeks have turned every shade of red.... I could go on... but I think you get it... (this is why I don’t wear headphones)
For the majority of my running career I’ve let Part 1 be the driving force of my why (like Joy in Inside Out- always taking control over everything) but throughout this injury process, Part 2 has had to find a voice and take control. I’m in a place where I’m trying to find a good balance between the two. I don’t want to let go of my competitive goals completely, but this process has transformed me in a way that I am have to make piece with those things being put to rest so I can salvage some of my why. I couldn’t see how much I loved running because I was blinded by my love for running fast times and the validation that comes along with that. I am by no means prepared to stop competing and going for PRs, but I realize that is not sustainable and running for pure love is. I have to center my goals around something I can control and PRs are not that.
I have no image to represent my transformation, but here is an image of my current status. I am transforming physically, yes. My foot can’t seem to heal while I’m on it all day so I’m taking more extreme measures. But more important than this is the emotional transformation taking place. Don’t be fooled, all those side by side comparisons were made possible by the silent internal transformations. If you’re struggling right now, I hear you, I see you, you are not alone. THIS is the hard work and the results will follow
COMMENT BELOW: tell me about a transformation you’re going through or have been through that couldn’t be captured by side by side comparisons.
I’m trying to move more towards blogging so your comments are appreciated!
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!