Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Inspiring Words from a US champ

I hope that everyone is doing well. I have been trying to get back into a normal training mode but keep getting side tracked by colds. Oh well the 50K in Moab in 4 weeks is going to kill me but it will be worth it.

Anyway my buddy Neal sent me this which was copied from a Blog written by Ryan Hall. In case you don't know who Ryan Hall is, he will be running the Marathon for the US in the 2008 Olympics. He was good friends with Ryan Shay who died at the US Olympic Trails last Nov.

Welcome to the official blog of top U.S. distance runner Ryan Hall as he begins his quest for Olympic gold! Check back every other Friday for Ryan’s latest entry.

These past three weeks I have been shown what it means to persevere in the face of hard times. Sara and I arrived in Flagstaff on December 30th to stay with our friend, Alicia Shay, with the goal of helping her in whatever way we could through the recent loss of her husband. However, as is the case so often when we try and help others, we are the ones who get blessed from the experience. I guess this is why Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Alicia showed me what it means to get up every day and face her troubles with courage and strength. I am sure a lot of people are proud of how Alicia has endured this hard time. I am certainly very proud and inspired by her ability to just plain get up everyday and choose to live a life of joy, even though she certainly has the right to be bitter, angry and frustrated.

Perseverance is a trait that I have had to learn a lot about during my running career.

The other day I was reflecting on how, when I was little, I always built up Olympians as these super-strong people who were just good all the time. Now that I am going to be one, it feels ironic that I thought of Olympians in this way. When I look at my strengths I realize that one of the most important characteristics I have is simply the ability to get back up. One of my favorite verses in the bible comes from Proverbs and says, “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again…” (24.16). This verse resonates with my soul because I had so many hard times in college.

I can’t tell you how many 800’s I jogged in over 2 minutes, even though I was going all out, or how many races I was doing everything I could do to just cover the distance. I remember racing in the London Super Grand Prix 5,000M two years ago getting the applause from the crowd for the last place runner who is struggling in far behind the rest of the field. After all these hard times, I, like Alicia, had a choice to make: was I going to get up or give in? I think some of the most celebrated moments in human achievement should be those times when everything is going against a person and they are down in the dumps but they simply choose to get up. That’s real greatness!

Currently, I am beginning to get ready for my next big event, the London Marathon. I know that the next three months are going to be full of challenging workouts. I know that I will hit some of them and feel great, but I also know that there will be days when I might be a little tired and may not run as well as I would like, but I know that no matter what the training and racing holds I will be thankful for the good days and I will get back up on the days when I falter.

When I was getting ready for the Olympic trials I had to put my perseverance to the test. About three months out I got a cold and started really struggling for a couple of weeks. I was pretty down about it all and even told Sara that I didn’t think I would make the team. I was blessed to have her encouragement through those rough weeks. I stayed down for a couple of days, but then I gradually lifted myself out of the dirt and got back to work. I am amazed by how much that one decision to get back up changed my life. I want to encourage you that if you are going through a tough time, get up; you have no idea what is waiting for you on the other side. Even if things don’t turn out how you hope, you still will have developed the characteristic of perseverance, which will benefit you for the rest of your life.