My Thoughts On Athletic Success
I never envisioned being a runner. I started at the age of 15 in this sport.
My smooth talking older brother, Paul, talked me into going out for the track team while at Indian Creek High School.
Paul was a senior when I was a freshman and the only thing I knew was a I didn't have the body of a football player and didn't have the chops to be great wrestler, both sports Paul participated in.
I was over 10 pounds at birth, Paul was a little over 8 pounds and yet Paul turned out to be a giant of a man compared to me.
He is over 6 feet tall and was always bigger than me.
I'm 5'10” and have hovered around since high school between 142-50 pounds.
I chose distance running but what it taught me over the years was that to do anything worthwhile in this life, risks are involved.
Nothing can take the place of desire.
It absolutely must be present in order to become successful and you have to be resilient because there is no easy route.
If you think success is just handed to people you are badly mistaken.
Yes, you can be born into royalty or come from a successful family such as the Trump Family but even ‘The Donald' has instilled in his children the importance of determination.
No Talent? So What! Create Your Masterpiece
When I was a freshman in high school just starting out in the sport I marveled at the guys in my local area who were breaking 5 minutes for the mile.
I ran 5:30 the first time I ran it as a freshman and finished my high school career with a personal best time of 4:25.4 that, ironically, I ran in a small regional meet, totally by myself.
An experienced runner wouldn't give much respect to someone who can break a 5 minute mile, the reality is many people will never perform that standard in their lives.
Athletes can get caught up in themselves, their goals and forget that what they consider easy is something someone else only dreams of doing.
I was one of those athletes that always tried to remain humble and to appreciate people, regardless of their cabaility.
Success isn't measured by how fast you can run, that doesn't define you.
Successful people are those that are content and happy with their lives, who seek out how to be better at whatever they do, who are always searching for the right mix of balance in order to maximize their life and others lives.
I never wanted to be a popular jock and although I was known in Ohio as one of the states top milers by the end of my senior year, I always tried to respect everyone.
I always stuck up for kids within my high school who were bullied and never felt that I was above anyone else because of my athletics career.
There was never anything special about me then and there isn't anything special about me now.
I focus on healthy living and proper training methodologies.
What I was and continue to be is persistent in goal setting, still love to compete, still have big goals as a runner and as an entrepreneur.
I find entrepreneurship drastically different than being an employee and often times, it reminds me of running because it involves so much risk, the unknown whereas working a normal job is, for the most part, safe and somewhat secure.
Risk takers, many times, are those who do not work for money, who run the fastest times simply because they are so persistent, so willing to live on the edge and are willing to put in massive, massive action toward their dreams.
Normal and comfort are not in their vocabulary, they thirst for something more than just accepting life ‘as is'.
Running and Business
I find these two spearate entities equal, both require enormous work, are comprised of setbacks and triumphs.
They both require dedication for one to succeed.
I have been a military member since late 2001 and have on numerous occasions over the years been told by Soldiers, as well as civilians, ‘I have never been much of a runner' and than I ask them how much they run.
It becomes painfully obvious far too many of us sell ourselves short.
I cannot accept someone telling me they are not much of a runner when they put in 5 miles a week.
They are not getting the results they want on account of the amount of sweat and output they are putting in.
I have a somewhat respectable level in long distance running on a damn near fanatical obsession to push my body as far as it can be pushed.
I, to this day, don't believe I have reached that point.
In 2007 I kept failing at the marathon distance and started to question if I was capable of breaking one of my short term goals of breaking what was then the 2008 USA Olympic Marathon standard which was 2:22:00.
A time which demands of a runner to maintain a 5:25 per mile pace for the entire 26.2 miles.
Long story short is I had to fail over and over before it became a reality and set a personal best of 2:19:35 (5:19 average per mile).
I experienced the dreaded DNF (did not finish) as well as performances that were several minutes off that 2:22:00 time before I ever ran under 2:20:00.
You have to be tenacious in this sport and you cannot rest on this idea that you don't have what it takes.
Have you demanded 100% out of yourself as an athlete.
How accustomed are you to handle defeat cause I can promise you as an athlete, you are going to experience it.
If you can find a way to make what others perceive as painful as pleasure, I can promise you, you will do marvelous things in our sport…but you have to be incredibly tenacious, bullheaded and persistent.
If you get knocked down 10 times, you have to get up 20.
If you are running 20 miles a week now, you may need to run 80 to make the jump and increase the pace you run the majority of those miles.
People think Kenyans were just born to run.
I have known just as many Kenyans that were not good runners as national or world-class athletes and the difference was the amount of time one class participated in training than the next.
Where is your focus and how much time are you spending creating what you want?
We all have to ask of ourselves the tough questions.
I can tell you right now, having a long term goal of running 2:15:00 or better for the marathon distance, I currently am not putting in the work load necessary so this article is just as much for me as it is for you.
We are not always going to have someone holding our hand telling us to get off our asses and make it.
If you are sick of living paycheck to paycheck you are going to have to do something different. Start your own business now.
Financial freedom isn't going to just fall into our laps.
Find what inspires you.
We usually become razor sharp focused when we can notice our actions and get tired of our acceptance of being a little too comfortable.
Safe And Secure, Comfortable
How about in your lifestyle?
In my own experience as an athlete, for what it is worth, I have found that we all can become far too comfortable for our gown good.
Employees accept a safe and secure paycheck and work the majority of their lives never truly having real freedom because their time is tied to their pay.
We become comfortable with routine, answer to the alarm clock, do our hair, drink our coffee, get in our cars, leave our homes, those we love most, in order to get payed.
There is a different reality out there that people who don't accept comfortable in their lives and they have a much fuller lifestyle comprised of not punching a time clock, getting up when they want.
They do not work for money and have systems in place that make money work for them.
Successful athletes are no different, they have found a way to find pleasure in what most people perceive as painful.
What reality do you want as as an athlete?
Are you accepting where you are as all the further you will ever be or are you willing to take some calculated risks?
Are you upping the paces of your long runs or will 20-milers at a nice, relaxed jog get you any closer to that pace goal you have in mind.
Keep in mind pace is the key and requires using the body's energy systems more efficiently.
The more aggressive the pace the more easy running needs to be shyed away from (unless, of course, you are recovering from harder workouts).
Second guessing is reserved for those who, sometimes, not all the time, have become too comfortable in training.
We all can fall short if we allow others who tell us what they think we are capable of, get to our heads.
I have been told on numerous occasions as I was moving up as a marathoner that my goals were too far fetched.
I believed I could run under 2:22:00 when I was still ‘only' a 2:43:36 marathoner.
Any runner who knows the sport knows that going from a 6:14 average per mile to a 5:25 per mile pace is massive change.
Where are you currently at and are you dreaming of impossible goals?
You must always envision yourself as accomplishing something incredible.
The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality or imagination – Billy Mills, Gold medal winner, mens 10,000m, 1964 Olympics (came in with a personal best of over 2 minutes slower than the best runners)
You have to be completely immersed in your goal, whether it be running, business or whatever gets your juices flowing.
Folks who are comfortable and find that desire make moves.
I, to this day, still fight against being comfortable.
I have been studying entrepreneurship since 2011 and found even more a reason to detach myself from the employee environment that I was indoctrinated to participate in all my life while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.
I also learned how much we all take for granted here in the United States when that ‘safe and secure' feeling left me every time we loaded up in our up armored trucks.
Athletic success boils down to how much effort we put into our dreams.
I once heard a great quote which says,
If you don't go after your own dreams, someone will gladly hire you to accomplish theirs
Whether you, like me, have chosen to take your focus you learned as a runner into business and become an entrepreneur or you are still going after athletic dreams, don't stop.
You never want to look back and wonder ‘what if'.
If you don't have athletic talent than work harder than those who do.
This is not easy, I can assure you.
I, too, was not born with athletic talent.
I knew of guys in high school who were breaking 8:50 for the 2-mile and I was fighting just to break 10:00 (best time was 9:46 as a senior).
It took 18 years of my life to run 2:19:35 for the marathon distance. I have friends in the running community who have done it several times and much faster.
How willing are you to endure through the setbacks?
How willing are you to spice up your training to create that ability to maintain pace longer than your competitors?
I say that because the only way to do that without a lot of talent is asking far more in training than you have ever asked out of yourself in your entire life.
You have to expect some setbacks along the way, keep in mind the best businessman and women or anyone regardless of expertise have experienced it and remained resilient throughout it.