This is one of my favorite pre-race articles. It was written by Sole Runner co-founder, Coach Gary Smith who has been living and running in China. He is pictured on the left crossing the finish line at the 2001 LA Marathon.
According to Eastern teachings, everything you study deeply gets harder so that the student develops patience. This is sometimes defined as a calmness in the face of suffering. A faith in the direction of your work. A willingness to face your hardships. A certainty in the teachings of your coaches (or spiritual masters).
Patience will allow you to learn. This patience will shatter your over-blown pride as athlete so you can begin listening again. Listening to your body, your coaches, and the old teachings.
And ultimately, patience will be your greatest teacher. To teach that you WILL get through this anxious time in your training. And you WILL survive those long training runs. And that some way, somehow you find the patience in others to juggle all those people in your life so that you can just show up on Saturday morning.
Well, when you get through all these little hardships, you will get some real patience.
Image that you are experiencing all this to demonstrate to your friends and family that you can stay strong in the face of a challenge. And imagine that you are experiencing these pains to show your friends and colleagues that great things are possible.
Patience and learning is one of the ways human beings develop the greatest of all human qualities…COMPASSION. And that’s a good thing for marathoners, because on race day, you will need some compassion. You’ll need to be compassionate and loving to your body and mind in that great battle of 26.2 or 13.1 miles.
Or even more important — and this is the part I love — you’ll need that compassion to lift your head high to look around you and motivate the runners around you. You’ll need that compassion to share a joke when they look sad. To share an inspirational story when their spirit seems down. You need to cheer on every honorable runner you pass to let them know how awesome they are doing. Because YOU KNOW what they suffered through to just get there on race day.
And even better, when you develop patience and compassion, your performance, your race day time, and your goals will just dissolve away into the practice of something deeper….seeing just how many people you can help on race day.
And in that, you will find happiness beyond your dreams. That by making others happy in training, before the race, and on race day you will find….happiness.
So hang in there, be patient, this time like all others, will pass.
Run With Joy, Gary Dawson Smith
Steve Mackel Head Caoch Sole Runners Marathon and Half Marathon Training Program
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Meet the Coaches
Born a runner but really picked up distance running in the late 90′s, when he started competing in triathlons. Read more