I got tired of not reaching my full potential — in running, that is. It’s something that’s been gnawing at me for about a year now. As most of you know, I’m a runner. It’s almost part of my DNA. Last week I crossed a major milestone –logging over 5,000 miles in the last few years.
And, while that is a lot of miles, I just wasn’t happy with how far my skills were progressing.
For those of you who see me post my times on Facebook or Strava, you know that I am a fairly fast runner. On a good day I can drop consecutive sub 6 minute miles. On a regular day, I’m in the low 7 minutes. I don’t just run marathons, I run ultra-marathons — races that are 2 times longer or more — usually 50 or 100 miles.
I run to stay sane — to fight the depression inside me. Running allows me to push my limits and clear my thoughts — heal what’s broken.
To be honest with you, I’m really a hillbilly what it comes to running. I don’t use any special powders or shakes or strategies. I just run as hard as I can, for as long as I can. And if I’m still not at the end line by that time, I just gut it out until I get there.
Usually that puts me somewhere in the top of the pack. I have finished some major races in the ‘Top 10’ — 3rd in a 50k and 4th in a 55k. Frankly, I am better than lot of other people behind me, but nothing super stellar — not an awesome performance.
Over the last year I’ve been asking myself how much better I would be if I actually had a plan. That changed a few weeks ago.
I was reading the latest addition of Ultrarunner Magazine and read with interest an interview with Zack Bitter –the fastest ultrarunner in the world right now.
In his interview, he relayed how he started questioning how much better he could be if he decided to be “all in” in managing not just his running, but his nutrition as well. He decided to adopt a rather extreme diet and exercise plan which has enabled him to increases speed and blow away the existing records for ultrarunning.
I was on a plane when I read Zack’s interview, but I pulled out my laptop without any Internet access and wrote an email that I would send when I landed. I asked Jack if he had any coaching availability and that I would do whatever he asked of me as long as he would work to try to help me reach my limits.
About a day later Zack emailed me back and told me that he was pretty full on his coaching — he didn’t have any more availability. But after a brief conversation on the phone, I was able to convince Zack to coach me, even though he was already pretty busy as a professional runner.
A week later, my body is sore, but I’m so glad I made the decision to stop being a loser and start winning. You might be surprised that I would think of myself as a loser even though I’m a pretty well accomplished runner as it is. The truth is that I’m not at my peak. I have more potential to be amazing. I feel it deep down.
For me to knowingly stay less than my best is to be a loser. And that’s just not something then I can live with. That’s not an attitude that I want to tolerate in myself.
I can’t allow myself to be complacent — I can’t allow myself to be happy with just being better than most everyone else. And even if I don’t end up winning. I have to know that I tried as hard as I could — that I planned and worked my heart out to try to be my best.
That’s why I hired the fastest man in the world to be my coach. Just so that I could be my best.
What about you? What do you want to be your best at? What is that thing that has been gnawing at you for the last year or so — that thing that you know you could be better at if you only tried a little harder? And got some help.
I’m not calling you names when I use the word “loser”. Ask yourself –are you winning? It can be hard to ask for help when you’re already better than a few other people out there.
You can always say that you’re not the worst. What about being the best? More importantly, what about being your best?
You might have to come to the conclusion like I did that being a loser is no longer something that you can tolerate.
Do it. Do it today.