Tuesday, November 22, 2016

In this obsession with the things the world says make us happy

Are we ever satisfied, or are we always searching for the next big thing?

With running you can always strive to improve your personal records.  Whenever you accomplish one goal, there is another one to try to rise to: check one off, then make the next.  There isn’t a ceiling.  It’s usually easier to try to reach higher than to appreciate how far you’ve come.

The attained is not as mythical as the unattained, and doing something can make it less special.  It’s often not as earth-shattering as you imagined, and maybe it doesn't change your world like you’d imagined.  Once you’ve done it, it’s no longer this legendary pie in the sky dream; but something you did.  And after all, it can't be that big of a deal if you actually did it, right?

I’m guilty of wanting more and more with running, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied with my running accomplishments.  I think I’ll forever be chasing my next PR or standard, although at some point in the not-too-distant future that will mean age-graded times.  Is this a good healthy passion, or is it being greedy?  Sometimes I’m not sure.  How can any of us best balance striving to improve ourselves while at the same time being thankful for what we’ve achieved (none of which we actually deserve!)?

When I set my sights on a sub-3:00 marathon, I thought that if I ran it, I would be content and perhaps even retire from marathons and focus on half marathons; like it was the pinnacle of marathoning for me.  But then I did it, twice, and it doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a deal.  Can't I try to go faster?  Looking at my past patterns of behavior, it should not come as a surprise to me that I’m not content with it, but in all honestly I really thought I would be beforehand.  I guess at one time I thought it was my ceiling, but I don’t think that any more.  
Pretty much sums it up!
I’ve worked a lot this year on not letting comparison steal my joy, and it's something I'm proud to report that I've really improved on.  I'm more joyous and thankful for the accomplishments of others than I ever have been, I know there is room in this world for us all to be our bests, and I want to support others around me towards their goals of being their best (running related and non-running related)!  With this situation it’s not really me thinking about the women out there who are faster than me (although there are a ton and that does cross my mind!), but more me knowing that I have more in me.  I want to be the best I can be.

I’m not sure what I expected would happen when I achieved my sub-3:00 goal, but it seems that I thought something grander would happen than what actually did.  Don’t get me wrong; I celebrated, I was joyous, I had wonderful runner’s highs, I was thankful and felt so blessed, and I treasure the lifelong memories of these races and of the training cycle that led up to them - but at the same time both of my sub-3:00 marathons were cloaked in some disappointments as well.  This was namely my wrong turn at Bass Pro, and a weaker final 10K than I wanted at Prairie Fire (which I believe was due to the illness I had 9 days prior to the race, running so much of the race solo, and the side cramp I had that was possibly due to taking a saltier gel than my usual around mile 19).  But those reasons, along with relatively low mileage for a competitive marathoner, are also why I know I have a faster marathon in me, so I am thankful for that!  If a PR race goes off without a hitch, it’s hard to envision ever running better.

I wrote a draft of this post before I ran my 1:22:37 half marathon PR on Saturday, and I admit that I was thinking a lot of "it's not fair" about not having a race where everything went off without a hitch.  God must have been trying to teach me patience and appreciation, because at White River I felt that I did; that the race couldn't have gone any better.  And I am sure I appreciated that more due to my experience in my marathons!  This was also how I felt about my previous half marathon PR in 2015.  What wonderful blessings to have been given!

In the end, my season PRs made me very happy, and it felt great to achieve something I worked towards for so long.  In a way I felt like I earned the PRs, but on the other hand I know I didn’t deserve any of it!  But the best gift I have isn’t achieved in any way, which is often very hard for the Type A in me to grasp.  That gift is Heaven, which I could never do anything good enough to earn or deserve!  Now that is a true blessing, and likely the reason why nothing in this world will ever satisfy any of us - it's not intended to.

One of my favorite verses!


  1. Such an insightful post. You are so right, every PR I run I am so excited but I also feel like I could do more. Then I readjust and set my sights on my next goal. I think that's just part of being a competitive person (within and outside of yourself) and willing to work hard to achieve your goals. Keep crushing them, one dream at a time!

    1. I think competitiveness definitely helps us achieve and be our best - in running and other realms - so hopefully it's mostly a good trait!

  2. "there is room in this world for us all to be our bests" So much wisdom in this one.