You Inspire Me

Yes, that’s right. You, yes you, inspire me to continue in my pursuit of running. Who are you? You are one of the millions of people who show up at races, participate in school sports, try to eat right, and basically just do what you think is right as you are actively trying to lead a healthy life.

If you ask 50 runners what motivates them to run, you will undoubtedly get 50 different answers. Continuing to run is hard. There are no two ways about it. There is nobody out there who has never thought how much they would like to skip their run on a certain day. We need to stay motivated. Inspiration comes in many forms. Some people are inspired by elite athletes. Truly elite athletes however, are so far above me, I find it hard to relate. The winner of the 2016 Olympic marathon was Eliud Kipchoge who ran 2:08:44. His final 10k of the race was under 30 minutes, OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who does that? If he had sprouted wings and took off flying I wouldn’t be any more impressed. That is just unreal. So unreal that it has no relation to my goals and dreams. So maybe international superstars aren’t my source of inspiration. These great athletes went far beyond what I ever did or ever will. They are inspirational but I need more.
A better source for me are those I consider local elite athletes. I am currently in my 28th year of coaching track and I have had the pleasure of coaching several elite runners, several of whom won state of Ohio championships in track. It is so much fun to stay in touch with them. It was a great surprise to run into two of them this past Saturday at a local road race. Always good to see you, Julia and Molly!

A thorn between two roses is pictured above. Julia and Molly Pusateri were at the race with their family but weren’t racing. They were doing a casual 12 mile long run while the rest of us thought we were something racing our 5k in 18 degree weather. Now these girls inspire me. They were doing something that I can actually shoot for and doesn’t stay in the realm of unreachable feats of strength. They do it better than I ever will but it is at least something I can talk about doing.

A few weeks ago, my team went to an indoor track meet. Talk about the meet from Hell, there were 42 (not a typo) heats of the 400 meters and 53, yes 53 heats of the 200. I was there for 8 ½ hours. Luckily for the kids, they didn’t all have to be there the whole time. But the dumb coach who signed us up for the meet did have to stay. The upside was hanging around hundreds of high school athletes who were competing hard, not sitting on the couch vegging out in front of the TV, actually trying to be fit and healthy. In between events, my girls got into a long discussion about eating properly. Most of them had different ideas on what the ideal diet consisted of but the important thing was that they actually cared what they were putting into their bodies. That is inspiring! One of the cool things about track is that at many venues, the parents can come right down and sit with us. On that day the parents got into a discussion on the merits of yoga vs. Pilates vs. various other core exercises. Talking to other adults who care about staying fit is also inspiring.

Most of all I need everyday people who I can relate to. Pictured above are my wife and our good friends who all turned out for a local race in September. I need the age groupers that come to the community 5k, lace up their running shoes and give it their best shot. There is such a great feeling being around people who are trying to do something healthy. Whether it be your first attempt or your 500th race, you keep me going. Most of us will never be the champion. Most of us will never have the body we dream of. But we can still dream and never stop trying.

When I see you at a race, or when I see you skipping the Pepsi and opting for a water instead, or when I see you take the stairs instead of the elevator, it keeps me going. Your effort to be healthy is contagious. I never thought I would use the word contagious in the same sentence as healthy but blogs can turn out in unexpected fashion.

Constant reinforcement keeps me at it. I read a lot of books about running and other assorted health topics. If there is a marathon on TV, I try to watch it. If there is a local race, I try to get in it. Each is a reminder to stay the course.

Lots of runners tell me they don’t want to enter races. They believe that’s just for people who are highly competitive. There is nothing further from the truth. Yes I like to see how fast I can run a certain distance, or in the case of a half marathon, let’s just see if I can still actually run that distance no matter what the time. But the real payoff for entering a race is hanging out with other people who entered that race. Most of them aren’t threats to take home the winner’s trophy. But they are out there doing a healthy activity. That is my biggest inspiration and when you try it, you will feel it too. That keeps me going. The middle and back of the pack are filled with people with smiles on their faces. They are proud to have completed the race. They are excited and already making plans to do it again.

What else can keep your interest? Sometimes getting a new running outfit will help. I firmly believe that applies more to you girls than us boys who are way to macho to worry about what we are wearing and will never admit that we do actually care how we look. Whatever keeps you going, immerse yourself in it. Surround yourself with other people who share your goals. I get inspired by it and maybe, just maybe, I can inspire someone else. Now wouldn’t that be cool!

Keep on running my friends!

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