8 Things Groundhog Day Taught Me About Running

We’ve all been there. It’s Mile 15 of the marathon, and things are looking mighty familiar. You started too fast…again. Didn’t you mean to dial it back for the first half this time? You’ve gagged down your gels…again. What happened to your plan to try other, less mucosal fuel sources for a change?

You start to curse yourself and your decisions, and that’s when you hear it…again. Heavy, shuffling footfalls right behind you, and breathing that sounds like some sort of steam-fuelled machine. Yep, it’s that guy, the one who doesn’t know how to pick up his feet and really needs to see a pulmonologist. He’s back. Right behind you. Just like in all your other marathons.

It’s at this moment that you hear the song:

“Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb.  Babe. I got you babe.”

Remember? It’s Bill Murray’s character, Phil, in the movie Groundhog Day, waking up to that song over and over again as he relives the same day thousands of times in a row.

If you’ve never seen the Movie Groundhog Day, let me sum it up. Murray’s character, Phil, has to keep reliving the same day over and over until he learns to appreciate his life.

If you’re like me, sometimes you feel like you’re living out the runner’s version of Groundhog Day. Well, maybe there are some things we can learn from our frustration in repeating our running mistakes over and over again. Maybe we can break the cycle!

Lesson 1: Learn new things

In the movie, Phil decides to learn how to play the piano and how to sculpt ice. We get set in our ways and tend to think we know what’s best for our running. But why not try to learn something new that you never considered before?  Whether it’s learning more about how nutrition affects your running or how yoga can help you become a better runner, step outside your comfort zone. It’s worth it.

Lesson 2: Appreciate the little things

Phil learns the importance of appreciating the small things in life. When a race or a run is not going your way, why not try focusing on 1 or 2 small things that you are thankful for like generous race volunteers, or the fact that you can put one foot in front of the other, or that you actually applied the correct amount of body glide for once!

Lesson 3: Appreciate the cast of characters in your running world

Each morning Phil is greeted by the same people: an annoying man, and the same former high school classmate (who’s now an insurance salesman). He dislikes them at first, but as the movie goes on, he comes to appreciate them for who they are.

During a run or race you are guaranteed to meet the usual cast of characters like the heavy breather or the mansplaining know-it-all. Try to accept them as they are: a guy who is inspiring because he’s trying his hardest just to get through the race, or a guy who may be obnoxious, but whose tips about the course might just save your race.

Lesson 4: See things for what they really are

Living the same day over and over, Phil is able to look at his life with a different perspective and see where he can change and improve. Sometimes all we need to do is take a step back and look at things from a different angle.

Try reviewing your training strategy or race plan with a friend, or look at your situation as if someone were coming to you for advice. Take off your blinders, remove emotion from the equation, and see if you can’t spot what the problem really is. Are your deluding yourself into thinking that you are running more or training harder than you actually are?

Lesson 5: Some days it’s ok to just throw in the towel

For a few days, Phil is beyond frustrated.  He basically says “f – it” and just gets through the day without trying to make anything better.  Sometimes it’s ok to just scrap a run and try again the next day.

Lesson 6: Use your knowledge and experience in ways that will benefit you

As Phil repeats his day, he learns where he needs to be to save a falling child each day and to save a choking man. You’ve run countless race and training runs. You know from experience what works and doesn’t. If you know your nutrition doesn’t work, than do something about it.  Research and experiment, don’t leave that part of your run to chance.

Lesson 7: Live like there’s no tomorrow

At his lowest point in the movie, Phil takes tons of unnecessary risks, because he knows there are no consequences to his actions. We don’t live in that world and everything we do has a consequence, but you can’t always play it safe. Once in awhile when it come to racing, take a risk, go for a bigger goal or try a new strategy. You might be surprised what happens.

Lesson 8: It’s ok if it takes a bunch of tries to get it right

According to the website Wolf Gnards, which ran the numbers, Phil was actually trapped for eight years, eight months and 16 days. I’ve been running way longer than that, and I’m still not able to get everything “right.” But that’s ok. It doesn’t matter how many times we have to try, just keep getting out there and keep running.

Do you ever feel like every day is Groundhog Day?

I'm a running mom of two little girls, who is busy balancing life, work and marathon training. It's always training season for me because I'm on a quest to run a marathon in every state, while constantly striving to be the best runner I can be. Running has led me to some great adventures and I always have a good story to share!

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