Running, Again – Maybe

I used to be a runner.

That was in high school – a long time ago. I tried many times to start running again, but it never stuck. I realized in college that what I missed most about running was the team I ran with. I couldn’t replicate that though, despite running in groups and trying different programs. Lately though, I’m back at it, and feeling more enthused about running than I have in years. My secret? Low expectations!

That sounds lame, but here’s what I mean. In the past, I’ve had my eye what’s next in my running program, not what I’m doing now. So if I was running during my first week, I was thinking about next week, where I should be and how I should get there. Instead of just enjoying a run or two. Now, I’m focused on how I feel, my form and getting to know running again.

Granted, Ive only been running for a week, mixed in with the bodyweight strength training program I’ve done since the beginning of the year. But it feels fun again for the first time in a long time. Two things that have helped are the book Running for Health and Happiness by Jason Fitzgerald, and his companion blog Strength Running. The advice has been simple and practical – just what I need.

I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop in the next few weeks when I have my running shoes on.

The 5:01 Mile

I never ran the fastest, but I had one goal: break five minutes in the mile. I failed. By two seconds.

At the end of my freshman year, I ran a 5:29 mile, and cut that down to a personal-best 5:03 midway through my senior track campaign. Many family and friends came to my last race to cheer me on. They wanted to see me break the five-minute mark. As I passed my coach on the third lap, I could hear him yell, “DK, you have to do this, or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” I started pushing hard, as I always did leading into the last lap.

But I failed. I trained every day. Worked hard. Listened to my coach. And still failed. As I crossed the finish line and heard the time, it amost echoed in my ears, “5:01-1-1-1-1.” I peeled off the track, opened a chain-link fence gate to cross over into the spectator area and walked under the bleachers. Then I sobbed.

This failure has stuck with me for 16-plus years. I can’t get another chance to remedy it. It taught me that failure is the best teacher. That each challenge represents a process. You attack that challenge, but you also have to trust it. Trust that you can pull what you need from it, no matter the outcome. “Trust the process.”

That’s a tattoo I’ve had around my left ankle since 2010, something I carry with me each day.

I wrote this because a lot of people ask me what my tattoo says and what it means. I thought it would make a good blog post.