We Define Success in Our Own Way

Meditations in Motion

I have not been running lately, due to an injury I sustained training for the Tunnel Vision marathon. You can read about it here and here. I have this to say about that: running is way better than not running.

Meditations in Motion

Yes, I am doing physical therapy, dutifully performing my exercises twice a day at home and visiting the therapist twice a week. I can do the elliptical, so I have a way to maintain fitness.

Funny story: I never climbed on an elliptical machine until last week. On Tuesday, after not running for nine days, I was so happy to discover that the elliptical did not cause any pain in my hip, I stayed on it for an hour. My calves were so sore the next day, I couldn’t do the elliptical for another two days. To say that I tend to overdo things is an understatement.

I, understandably, have some spare time on my hands, due to the vacuum left by the absence of running, so I have been thinking: what other talents do I have? What else would be fun to do (at least temporarily) to substitute for running? Then I realized, my running talents are modest at best, and that was a freeing thought. Something loosened inside of me.

I have been running for most of my adult life, but only fairly seriously for about 15 years. Before that, a friend and I would go out and jog three miles three times a week. We had a route that we almost never varied from, starting from her house and circling our town. We talked the whole way about our families, our team (we played on the same volleyball team), religion, relationships, and whatever else popped into our minds.

It was fun, a way to have thirty minutes of adult time when all the other minutes of our days were taken up by our collective seven children. It wasn’t until my youngest son graduated from high school and I was feeling lost and adrift that I started running competitively.

Meditations in Motion

There are plenty of women who have more running talent than I. Even though I often place in my age group, that is due mostly to two reasons, and neither one of them is talent.

One reason is simply attrition. By the age I began racing, in my mid-forties, many other women have already hung up their racing flats. In the small high school I attended during the 1970s the cross country team was a male-only sport. Title IX had not reached us yet, and it was thought that high school girls could not withstand the rigors of running a 5k race. I was a sprinter on the track team, running the 100-yard dash and anchoring the 440-yard relay (we didn’t have meters back in the 1970s).

It never crossed my mind to try to run longer distances until much later in life. My running career was still on the upswing when women who began running in their teens and twenties were long past the age of personal records.

The second reason is hard work. And determination. My husband calls it stubbornness, I call that particular trait determination. To-may-to; to-mah-to. I was always willing to run a lot of miles to train for a race. While friends of mine could run a much faster marathon than I with one 18 or 20-mile long run as the pinnacle of their training, I often ran several 22 or 23-milers. I once even ran a marathon to train for another marathon.

 

Mdeditations in Motion
My hubby Bill is dedicated, too!

 

I ran in every kind of weather. Heat, snow, rain, even ice didn’t stop me. Only thunderstorms did. I often ran at 4:30 a.m. so that I could get a long run in before school, because I knew that I would not be able to run after school (I was too busy and exhausted). I loved the feeling I got from doing track workouts, speeding breathlessly around the track in the dark, then taking a recovery lap.

So why is realizing my lack of running talent freeing? I think it is for this reason: I am mostly responsible for my (very modest) running successes. Talent is dispensed by God (and genetics). I have no control over how much talent I have, but I don’t have to have a lot of running talent to be a successful runner. We all define success in our own way. I am free to write my own definition of success.

 

Meditations in Motion
Photo by: Goyk at the English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

I once ran a race in which Olympic marathoner Joan Benoit-Samuelson was in my age group. I don’t care how hard I trained, I was not going to beat Joan Benoit-Samuelson and win the age group. Joan had been the speaker at the pasta dinner the evening before the race.

Meditations in Motion

This race was one of my favorite half marathons, a mixture of flat stretches and rolling hills, roads and park trails, exactly the kind of variety I love. Runners even cross a covered bridge at mile 11 in which a harpist plays soothing melodies.

I felt very good the day of the race. I started off fast and maintained a good pace throughout. I never look at my watch during any race, so I didn’t know what my time was until the very end of the run. The end of the race was run on the local high school track. As I came around the last turn, I saw that I had a 3-minute PR (personal record). Did I beat Joan? No! Not even close. I wasn’t even in the top three finishers for my age group, but I was successful that day. I got to define success my own way.

Meditations in Motion

At this point, I am going to define success as just getting back out there and finishing a race pain-free. After that, who knows? I get to change my definition if I want.

My 79 year-old friend, the amazing Heidi, who I wrote about here, is running 20-mile training runs for her upcoming marathon in Greece. She recently told me that for her “rest week” with no long runs scheduled, she competed in a 10-mile race on Saturday in the stifiling heat and humidity of a late-August day, then ran a 5k, just for fun, on Sunday. When I have Heidi for inspiration, who can blame me for thinking the sky is the limit?

I am linking up with Deb Runs for her Wednesday Word. This month’s word was “talent“, Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs Β for the Coaches’ Corner, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, Random-osity for Little Things Thursdays, Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for their Friday 5, and Sharing a Journey for Wellness Wednesday.

 

 

 

44 comments

  1. How I define success in regards to running has changed a lot over the years. At first, I thought that getting a PR was a success. When I moved to longer distances, just finishing the race was a success. Now I want to make sure that I can run for along time so my success is around running injury free.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you get to fully recover speedily.
    In the meantime, I’d tell you not to overdo it, but I don’t think you’ll listen. (Do you listen to the doctors/ therapists?)
    79 and running 5k to rest? Absolutely mind-boggling to me.
    A great post on how success is personal. It also translates to happiness. We can’t compare ourselves to those around us, because we are all in different circumstances. But we can all be happy and successful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Floating gold, you have me pegged! I listen only selectively to doctors and therapists! πŸ™‚ We all can be happy and successful. We just have to look inside ourselves to know what it takes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree that I prefer running to not running LOL and I am still going through my physical therapy for plantar fasciitis and looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. You’re so right that we have to define success in our own way. i will never be a competitive racer, I will probably never win an age group award. But I work really, really hard LOL, and that’s what I value the most – that, and getting to do something that I love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janelle, you never know about the age group thing. You just have to stick around long enough like I did! πŸ™‚ Good luck with your PF. You have been dealing with that for a lone time!

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  4. I never thought about running this way but I imagine it can be freeing. My definition of success certainly changes from month to month and even day to day. Being an injured runner, certainly makes you cherish even small successes. I have no doubt you will be back out there soon!

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  5. I am not athletic. I do not win AG awards — this summer I’ve gotten close, but that was only when the races were tiny, and normally I’m a solid middle to pack of the packer.

    And even though I know we are very different temperaments, I am most definitely determined. I don’t know why it’s so important to me to try to improve — I have pondered this questions many times and never really came up with a good answer.

    While many i my small group of friends are more than willing to cut runs short to make it to breakfast on time, that’s not me. Not that I’ve never cute a run short — heck, I did that just yesterday — but I wouldn’t do that for that reason. Does that make me a runhole? Maybe. But I don’t think so.

    If it’s important to me, I would expect my friends to support me, even if they don’t feel quite the same way. Which of course has nothing to do with talent. Oh boy, I could definitely write a post about that and probably will try to. πŸ™‚

    Sorry for writing a blog on your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a good reminder that it is up to us to define what success looks (and feels) like. At the moment, facing down a streak of rejections for writing I’ve submitted, that’s an important thing to keep in mind. I can’t control publishers, but I can choose to continue undaunted, and keep improving πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan, you are a talented writer who always writes the truth with great insight. I hope you come to Philly on your book tour, because I want to get my copy signed!

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  7. I think social media is both a friend and a foe in what it shows us. We see the “successes” of others and often times (at least for me) compare our own “successes” against their measure. It’s only in recent years I have embraced my own goals and aspirations and feel free to do this running thing my way. I’m not competitive by nature and don’t thrive on constantly running faster or farther (though I do enjoy those rare occasions when all the stars, moon, and planets align LOL)…I don’t need or want to “race” every time I pin on a bib; I’m happy to just enjoy the race day atmosphere and the camaraderie with fellow runners πŸ˜‰

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    • I agree with your comment about social media, although since I have been injured, I have received a lot of encouragement and advice from fellow runners. Very early in my blogging career (6 months ago!) I wrote a piece about expectations. I am still working through not having expectations based on race times from when I was younger. I have done many races when I don’t “race”. I am usually running with someone else – my hubby, son or a friend. These are the races I usually enjoy the most. They are so stress-free. Thanks for the great comment!

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  8. Not running when that is how you have been spending your free time is SO hard. When I was sidelined earlier this year I spent a lot of time reading (which I love and hadn’t been making time for) and rediscovering how to crochet πŸ˜› I hope you start to feel better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been lured by the successes in my 50s as well–a few AG placements will do that for you! I have had to remind myself that part of this is due to attrition like you said and that I hadn’t crossed over the dark side to the post-menopausal loss of endurance. I’m there now and man is it humbling! I spent this year getting my head back in the right place again, altho I still like to try to beat myself.

    Hope your feeling better and back on the road very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to know that I am not the only one going through it! I am still working on getting my head back together. I think getting back on the road will be a long, slow process. I’m sure everyone will be tired of me writing about it very soon! πŸ˜€

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  10. I love this! Success is definitely different for each of us and it is what we make it. Although I have won some age group awards, I am definitely not a talented runner. Besides, I think age group awards are all relative to who shows up on race day, but that’s oka, I’ll take it!

    I am so impressed with your once 4:30 wake ups. I definitely have to run after school.

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    • Awards are definitely dependent on who shows up on any given day! 4:30 was so much easier for me than after school. I guess we all have our own rhythms! πŸ™‚

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  11. I know how you feel with having to take time off from running. But you’ll come back stronger and happier for it. Also: I’ve only been on the elliptical once. I didn’t like it so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think the effects of aging on our running is something a lot of us weren’t prepared for, but are experiencing now. It was quite the rude awakening for me, especially since I train with women 10-20 years younger than me. I could easily hang with them on our training runs until last year… I’m thankful for age groups so at least on race day I’m competing against women my own age.

    Thanks for linking!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree that running is better than not running, especially when not running is not your choice! After a few running injuries I’ve found joy in other activities – cycling and yoga – but I still don’t want to be sidelined from running. It’s hard to be patient with recovery, but that would be a huge success!

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  14. I’m definitely a run before school runner too. I just don’t have the energy to do it after. I’m glad you can elliptical… definitely not as fun as running but at the right angle and resistance, I find that it can feel a *little* like running. Good job performing your PT exercises! Do you have pain now that you aren’t running?

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    • I think we expend so much energy at school, we don’t have much left at the end of the day! Yes, I still have pain, especially when I sit for long periods of time.

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  15. Ugh, not running definitely stinks! I love how you are thinking about what else you could be doing during this no-running time. I’m a back of the pack runner, and I just want to be able to run for as many years as I can, so as long as I can get out and run, I’m happy. That line of thinking evolved from wanting to be faster a few years ago…things do change! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. Sometimes change is hard but necessary. I am learning Italian and working on sketching exercises now that I am not running so much. Thank you for the comment!

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