Thursday, March 27, 2014

Two Questions

Newton’s Third Law of physics states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This, of course, applies to science which in turn means it applies to life.  If a person wants success in life, one first must be willing to put forth the effort to cause a reaction.  Doing so may not always be easy, but with the right motivation it is definitely possible.
So, today at practice I took my team into a classroom and gave them a pen and paper.  Next, I asked them to answer two questions.  First, I asked, “Why do you get out of bed in the morning?”  I instructed them to put some thought into this, considering what might be the drive or motivation to start their day.  The second question I asked them, “What is YOUR definition of success?”
I get out of bed every morning, and more often than not it is to do my first workout of the day.  But, why do I work out?  Because I have athletic goals and other life goals that I believe working out will lead me closer to achieving.  I have been posting my goals since I was in high school.  I believe having a direction is vital.
If I gave two of my athletes a map of a cross country course, I am confident they could find their way around the course even if it is not marked, completing a 5K.  On the other hand, if I told two other athletes to run a 5K on a blank course without a map or GPS, they would have no idea and only by luck would they stand a chance of achieving the goal of knowing where to go.  A goal is a map, a direction to where you are trying to get.  As a coach, I see athletes who succeed and others who do not.  The number of athletes who struggled and did not have success almost always had the necessary talent yet lacked the direction, the focus, or the plan to achieve success.  “Success is the completion of one's goals and is a never ending process where one must continually be setting new goals and moving forward.”  This is what I wrote when I asked myself the second question.
Watch the news for 15 minutes, and there will be a story of rags to riches or vice versa.  In today's society, we are money hungry and consumed by what financial security can bring us.  However, success should not be pinned to a dollar amount, but instead it should mean achieving one's goals.  The fifth grade teacher who stays late to help a student with the basics of math and sees success will be as happy as someone who finishes their first marathon that they set out to do.
After reading through the answers given by my athletes, I was encouraged.  Their responses, of course, reflected that they have individual goals as I had hoped, and that each new day provides new opportunities or is a day closer to reaching their goals.  However, I couldn't help but think how many times it seems that some of my athletes have gotten up and not felt this motivation or drive.  If they would just have these questions answered and then write out clearly defined goals in plain sight, they might be more driven to succeed.  Newton's law might also apply to the force pushing you back into bed.  This is the moment when one has to work up the courage to meet this action with an equal reaction and get going.  So when you are looking to accomplish more you must be willing to put in more effort, as a larger reaction only comes as a result of a larger action. 

As with many of my posts, I challenge you to answer these two fundamental questions and to use your answers as a map to achieve what it is that you have been sent here to achieve.  I am 100% confident that God has put me here and you here as well for a reason.  It's time to stop putting off life and time to strive to achieve success.

Monday, March 17, 2014

1500m of Faith on Cracked Ribs

It's been nearly five years since I last raced a 1500m race.  Even more surprising might be that one of my greatest days was that day.  It was a perfect day on my home track at the conference meet.  Bringing home the conference title and going out on top seemed like the perfect way to cap my collegiate running career.  Since that day, I have raced countless races from a 3K to a marathon, but I have not touched the 1500m.  Why would I?  I had a perfect race and have a perfect memory that would be very hard to beat; however, I recently decided it was time to take the 1500m out of the closet and play with it again.   

Nearly two months ago, one of my athletes suggested running a fast 1500m at TCU as it is an early outdoor meet, and there would be great competition.  At first, I said I would run the 3K if I raced anything, but he convinced me that it would be fun to go fast again.  With that in mind, I went for it and called up the TCU coach two weeks ago.  I asked if I could race unattached this coming Friday in the 1500m and perhaps in the 3K later on in the meet.  After I was granted permission to toe the line with a bunch of college students still in their prime, I was filled with excitement.  What kind of shape am I in, how fast will they go out, and am I too old to run with these guys?  I have always loved the quote that nothing great was ever achieved without excitement, so here I am, excited and ready to see what I can do. 

The day after my phone call to TCU, I had a run in with bad luck and ended up going down in a parking lot cracking three ribs.  Was this a sign that I shouldn't be racing?  Perhaps, but I am too stubborn to call the TCU coach and tell him I need to drop out.  So, with less than two weeks until the race, I decided to ignore the doctor's orders and continued training and pushed through the pain.  It has not been easy as each step jars the ribs with a painful shock.  Lifting is out of the question, and I can't even sleep normal as I am stuck sleeping in a recliner. 

Just to make sure this coming race is even more interesting, I have been seeded with the #1 time.  So, with race day approaching, I am filled with excitement and perhaps fear.  What happens if the pain is too much to handle with the ribs, or what if two weeks of sub par training will leave me bringing up the rear?  These thoughts could keep me awake and stressing every second from now until race time, but that will do me no good.  I must have faith.

My faith is what gets me through.  My finish time is irrelevant to me.  What matters is my effort and the way in which I race.  God has given me the ability to run and run well.  It wouldn't matter what the trial is that lies ahead.  My life is filled with hurdles that must be overcome, but I do not worry because I have my faith.  Worrying is like a rocking chair, it will pass the time, but it won't get you anywhere.  One must fill themselves with faith, faith that God has a plan and that He will not lead you where you are not supposed to be.  I cannot imagine even getting out of bed without faith.  How can someone live without faith?  What is the point of even putting on your shoes?  Without faith you are alone; even surrounded by people you are alone because it is only faith that will lead past this life into something greater.  Friday afternoon when I step to the line, my mind will be filled with faith, faith that God will be with me every stride, and that with all my effort I will run the race he has put in front of me.