Thoughts on the Run – What’s your go-to excuse:
“Coach, I caught a cramp on the last turn.” “If it hadn’t had been for that gust of wind, I was there!” “I ran a long run yesterday and my legs were shot.” “I haven’t raced in a long time, and this was just a tempo run.”
Excuses. Well, they’re like… well, they’re like. The last one in the above paragraph is always my favorite, although I gotta say, if you can catch the cramp, you should be able to catch the competition. I mean, those things are fast!
In my 43+ years of running and racing, I’ve heard a lot of excuses. And by a lot, I mean a lot! What’s an excuse? Well, it’s quite simply the reason you state that you didn’t do what you said you were going to do. From gusts of wind to imported humidity, from catching muscle spasms to ill-timed workouts, excuses give us a reason to say why we didn’t achieve our goal for the day. And the loftier the goal, the more imaginative the excuse!
Let me state here and now, for the record, forevermore… it is okay to fail! There, I said it and I own it. Failure is a part of growth and improvement. Without failure, success really isn’t very fulfilling. But too many runners are afraid to fail so they either don’t try OR they determine the best excuse to fit the current environment. From training errors, to weather, to injuries (real or imagined), the excuse ‘waters down’ the failure.
Please don’t confuse excuses with failures. I’ve had plenty of failures. My 1991 Boston Marathon is a perfect example of a failure. Poor race execution caused me to DNF. It’s really not an excuse. My first 13 miles were run in 1 hour 14 minutes. I was ill-prepared to maintain that pace for another 13 miles and paid for it by dropping out at 21 miles.
In my years, I’m sure I’ve had a few ‘excuse’ races as well. But the thing about excuse races is that once you make the excuse, it’s typically forgotten. The above ‘long run, legs shot’ excuse came out of my mouth at least once, but I don’t recall when. Perhaps it was a reality, but what dummy sets themselves up to use that excuse before the race even begins? Well, that would be me.
So why do so many of us look to the excuse rather than the reality? Quite simply, we view our performances as a way of judging ourselves. And if we don’t live up to the expectations we think others have for us, we just HAVE to sound off as to why. Even the innocuous ‘just didn’t have it today’, relieves us of the burden of the failing.
Many of you who know me have often heard me say ‘Don’t Suck’. There’s a double meaning to that short phrase. The first is ‘do your best, whatever your best happens to be today’. The second is ‘own it’. Your worthiness is not and should not ever be measured in how poorly you think you did in a running event. No excuses are ever necessary. You are where you are. No one can or should ever attempt to take that away.
Failures are where growth and learning come from. Excuses are where imaginary cramps go to die. Those suckers are fast! Please never confuse the two. I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.