First off, I know this blog has been idle for quite some time, so I appreciate if you’re still with me.
Second, although the primary topic of this post is not a happy one, I hope that the message has an impact.
My circle of marathoning/walking friends has sadly suffered another loss. Our friend Beth K. died after an accident late last year. Beth was with the Team Prevention program from very early on. (In this program, run by Prevention magazine from 2005 to 2009, the magazine helped readers train to walk half and full marathons, with many measures of support and information.)
One of the best facets of the program was our group of mentors. These were women who were pretty new to the walk-a-marathon thing, too. They shared their learnings and advice on online message boards for our participants, and they came to our races to inspire, coach, and meet participants.
Beth was one of those mentors.
We’d have a team dinner the night before a given race, at which our mentors usually said a few words to the group. The messages differed — some mentors would explain why they chose to walk races, some would offer words of wisdom for first-timers, and so on.
Beth had a particular message she’d share. I’m sure I won’t do it justice, and I’m sure it won’t be as motivating as it would be if she were the one giving it, but the message was strong and simple.
“You’re not just walking,” she’d declare.
Our group of participants were mostly first-time racers. They were not usually the most athletic bunch of folks. Maybe once upon a time they ran, but age or joint problems or other factors ended their time as a runner. And here they were, about to embark on a pretty big and, for many, daunting goal — to do a full or half marathon. When people would learn they were doing a race, many of them would tend to say, “Well, I’m just walking,” in an almost apologetic tone.
“You’re not just walking,” Beth would emphasize. “You’ve trained for several months and you are doing a marathon.”
She made it clear that no one who embarked on the goal to complete a half or full marathon was just doing anything.
Own it, she was saying.
With one sentence, one correction to a statement, she motivated participants to feel even stronger, to feel even more motivated, to feel even more proud.
We all cross the same finish line, whether it’s with a pace of 7-minute miles or 15-minute miles. Don’t apologize for how you got there.