With the 2012 Olympic Games upon us what better time to hop on the track fan caravan? But maybe you‘re worried you won’t be able to relate to the elite runners? Or maybe you’d love to track the trackstars, but don’t know how. Well, Rosemary is here to sell you on becoming a fan of the best athletes of our sport.
One of the reasons that I LOVE running is because of all the lessons I learn through running. Character is tried, tested, and built at every experience level, from novice to elite. I enjoy following racing and interviews with collegiate and elites for some of the same reasons that films such as Hoosiers and Rudy are so popular. I love the process of training and racing in my own running career. But I also I love watching the process as it transpires in others. And there is something very comforting and inspiring about following talented, dedicated, and successful runners through the process. No matter what you are enduring in your running life, whether it is the peak of success or feels like rock bottom, you’re not alone. Someone else is feeling it, living it, enduring it too. Here are some of the basic “lessons” that following the pros can teach you.
1. This is how we overcome
When you are in the midst of a setback, your world is gray. This is something I’ve been interested in learning more about throughout the past few months as I’ve dealt with my own set-back: a 6-month lay-off due plantar fasciitis. I’ve sought out articles and interviews about runners on the comeback from injury or illness. Because even though I know in my heart that I’ll always get through the rough patch, sometimes it helps to have a little reminder. Two runners that have very inspiring stories are Gabriele (Gabe) Anderson and Lauren Fleshman. Gabe overcame cancer to finish fourth in 4:07 in the 1500 meter run final at the Olympic Trials. Here’s a moving interview with Gabe:
Lauren Fleshman is very candid about the ups and downs that come with setting big goals and made it to the 5000 meter final at the Olympic Trials after running just three days a week this past winter/spring. Both of these ladies are spokeswomen for courage, fortitude, and mental strength. And their stories, along with the stories of many other ladies, are there when you need them.
2. Dreams do come true
We all hear that hard work pays off, but in a world of high pressure and even higher expectations, it is easy to forget it. Watching championship meet racing gives you the chance to see proof that dreams come true! One of the most exciting races to watch from the IAAF 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea was Jenny (Barringer) Simpson sprinting to the line to win the 1500 meter run. At the Columbus Running Company, we have a poster with her twitter feed after the race; “This is what I get for dreaming.” It captures the sentiment of this “lesson” perfectly.
Her emotion is proof that the pro’s are people too! She is excited and proud, and it was exciting for fans of the sport to celebrate her success.
Risk-taking is scary. What if I don’t make it? What if I can’t do it? What if I FAIL? We all have these thoughts. We are our own biggest critic. Sometimes, we don’t even know that we are limiting ourselves! I’ll let you in a little secret: “making it,” “can’t” and “failure” are really only factors in our own mind. Championship track meets and road races manifest the benefits of setting goals and taking risks. The latest of these inspiring races is Kim Conley (you ask, who?) making the Olympic team in the 5000 meter run. She needed to finish top 3 and run faster than the Olympic A standard of 15:20. She finished third by less than 0.3 seconds and ran 15:19.79 to qualify for her first Olympic team. She set her goal running at the Olympic Trials after the 2008 Trials. Her personal best prior to setting this goal? 16:23. (16:23 is fast, but it’s more than a minute from the time needed to even have a shot at the Olympic team!) Take that, “can’t,” “don’t,” and “fail.” Watch her post-race interview:
4. Life is a journey
So , you’ve put yourself out there. You’re working hard, you’re hoping for a breakthrough, a promotion, a PR. But it’s just not your time. That’s ok because your time will come. I have to constantly remind myself of this concept both in running and in life. My latest reminder, thanks to the pros, was watching both Amy Hastings and Dathan Ritzenhein qualify for the Olympic team in the 10,000 meter run. What made this 25-lapper so exciting to watch? Well, back in January at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials, Amy and Dathan both crossed the finish line in the dreaded fourth place (the top three earn a spot on the Olympic team). Amy crossed the line only 71 seconds behind third place while Dathan was 8 seconds back. But as you have surely learned in your life, the sweet stuff just ain’t as sweet without a shot of bitter. I don’t know any track fans out there that weren’t pulling for Amy and Dathan to run their way onto the Olympic team. And they did it! Next time you’re feeling down and out, check out the post-race interviews from Amy’s Olympic trials races:
Remember, your time will come!
I’ll be back soon with Part II: a guide the awkward getting-to-know-you stage of fandom.
Do you follow the pros? Who inspires you?