Monday, June 25, 2012

Running lessons: To inspire and be inspired

It was another tough long run yesterday. I'm not sure why. I ate well last week, avoided drinking too much wine the night before, and ran at a relaxed pace. Still, my calves were tight and sore throughout, my right foot cramped up, and my left shoulder felt as if it was fastened to my ear by a bungie cord. I did my best to manage the discomfort by focusing on my form, taking regular walk breaks and stopping to stretch now and then, but I never got into a really good groove.

On the upside, the weather was perfect for running - cool and misty with just a hint of breeze - and the damp weather we've been having lately made everything gloriously lush and green. Even in the subdued light, the foliage seemed to glow.

As I ran, I mulled over a message I received from a friend on Friday. In passing, he mentioned that my Facebook posts about running sometimes inspire him to get moving himself. Yesterday, in particular, it was helpful to remember that I don't run only for myself - that occasionally my running benefits others as well.

I vividly remember the first time a former colleague and and I chatted about running and she told me (in no uncertain terms) that she'd never run a marathon - that she didn't think she could and wasn't particularly interested in trying. Since she was young and fit and had been running for years, I knew she could run a marathon if she wanted to and I thought she might enjoy the challenge, so I encouraged her to consider running a half marathon to see how it felt. In the months that followed we discussed my own marathon training often and, before I knew it, she'd registered for her first half.

After that, we lost touch for awhile so I was thrilled when a few weeks ago - a little more than two years after that first conversation - I received this message:
You're going to be so proud....I finished my first marathon! I'm super happy with my time...I was hoping to do it in 4 hours, and ended up finishing at 3:43. I couldn't be more thrilled. 
Going into the race I thought it was going to be really difficult and thought that perhaps this might be the one and only marathon I'll run....HOWEVER, I am now totally hooked. I can't wait to do another. 
She was right. I was very proud of her - not to mention pleased that I'd played some small part in her success.

Reading her message also made me feel grateful - for all the people who encouraged me when I first started running a decade ago, for the friends and family who've supported my running adventures since, and for all those runners and non-runners alike who inspire me every day - but especially the days when running feels hard.

So, fellow runners, who or what first inspired you to run?  What gets you out the door on days you don't feel like running?  Have you ever been responsible for infecting someone else with the running bug?

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