Confession time: I love old movies. I love movies from the 1940s where the dialogue is witty and quick and often acerbic. My favorite actress of this era is Katharine Hepburn and the bulk of my DVD collection revolves around some of her best performances. (Seriously, the scene with Hepburn and Spencer Tracy at the ballpark in “Woman of the Year” is absolutely fantastic.) So it’s not surprising that one of my all-time favorite quotes is attributed to her:
I discovered that although I wasn’t that brilliant, I could do it — if I worked. You can do anything, anything in the world if you try hard enough. You’ve just got to keep on struggling, because everybody gets discouraged, and almost everybody quits, and there are a few who don’t — and then they go on and discover gold.
The gem for me in that quote is two-fold: The realization that everyone get discouraged, and that includes the naturally gifted and uber-successful people, and that discovering your personal gold comes from that elusive intangible of sticktoitiveness.
Welcome to Saturday’s long run.
I had a 9-mile run with no specific pace work on the training plan. Just getting in the miles was all that was necessary. But one of my best friends was back in town for the weekend and we teamed up for 7 miles of the run. I worked a bit on the harder side of an easy-run feel, but still felt good, strong and steady. Sue and I chatted as we usually do, about running, training, work and life (not necessarily in that order) and while it was a cold morning, the sunrise was beautiful. As the miles ticked off, we kept running faster, our pace only slowing when I took my self-mandated nutrition break every three miles. My last mile of the run turned out to be at race pace, much to my pleasant surprise.
Here is the thing about training: Some days suck. Some weeks suck. Sometimes an entire month can suck. You wonder why you’re getting up at 5 a.m. on weekdays to get your workouts done. You wonder if you will ever get any better or if you’re regressing into an abysmal pit. You start to wonder if the whole experiment is worth it or if all the haters and the negative committee that meets in your head have a point after all.
But you keep on going. You remember what it is about training and racing that you love, what it really means to you. And if it’s more than just about your performance on race day, more than just about bragging rights, more than just about outward appearances, it’s easier to stick with. And then you realize that when it gets difficult, almost everybody quits. But you keep going. And then you go on and discover gold.