I went running today with a purpose for the first time in years. It has been three years since I ran in a race. From my mid-40s to my early 50s I ran a number of races, mostly 5k races and a few half marathons. I was involved in college ministry at the time through my church and several of the college guys and I would commit to various races, training together and enjoying the challenge, the trips and the competition. I was the old guy – Ol’ Blue – among the college crowd just like in the movie Old School. I loved every minute of it.
Since my team of four at work decided yesterday to run in the Muddy Fanatic race on May 19, I decided I’d better start training today. Oh, my, do I have work to do!
I couldn’t begin to make it the whole route of a little over 3.5 miles without way too many 30-second walk breaks. My legs will yell at me tomorrow, no doubt. My time was atrocious compared to my last 5k race.
So what do I take away from today’s run? Does my performance mean that I should hang it up because I’m not good at that any more? Should I expect to suddenly run at a pace that I ran at years ago even though I have not trained? The answer to both questions is “no.”
Previous success does not guarantee future success at any task, especially if you fail to practice and keep your skills up to date. I knew I would have a terrible average pace per mile today, but that’s OK. Today is the benchmark. Running is always primarily a race against yourself and your best times more than it is against others – at least for me it is.
So here’s to whatever May 19 brings and the fact that my performance then will be better because of the training I put myself through over the next 5-6 weeks. Running races years ago isn’t what will make May 19 a success. It’s what I do between now and then to prepare that will make the difference.
Leap year lesson #95 is Past success does not guarantee future success.