I ran a 10 km race this weekend. I went into it thinking I didn’t care about time. All I wanted was to enjoy the experience, take in the energy of the crowd, the runners… and also to see how ready I was for my upcoming races.
Around 2 km in the race I got a really bad stitch on my lower right side. It was hard to ignore but I kept on running knowing that a) it wouldn’t kill me, and b) it would probably go away. It didn’t. It got worse, it got better, but it was always there. I found it hard to enjoy the run with the stitch on my side, but powered through it. It wasn’t something I hadn’t experienced before. I never stopped running.
Maybe if I would have stopped it would have gone away, but I made the decision to keep moving forward. One step at a time. When I finished the race I finally felt relief. In fact, I sprinted through the pain for the last 300m, running as fast as I could, ignoring the pain.
Looking back at the race, as awful as I felt most of the time, I was happy I ran it, and proud of finishing it. Happy it was over. If I would have stopped I would have prolonged the pain. The faster I ran, the faster I would get to the finish line and get it over with. But the faster I ran, the harder it was to enjoy the experience.
I wasn’t happy with the time, I wish I would have trained more (that seems to be a theme with my running races), but I don’t regret the experience I had. There were moments during the race where the pain subsided enough to enjoy the experience. Those moments made the pain worth it, or at least bearable. So did the people cheering me on.
Isn’t that what life is all about? Enjoying the good times, and trying to make it through the pain without letting it you stop in your tracks. Telling yourself that the pain will not kill you, that the pain is only temporary.
Most days when I run I do not get a stitch. Sometimes I get the runners high. Sometimes I curse my way through the run. You never know. You can train, eat well and prepare your body as well as you know how, but on race day, you don’t know how your body will react.
Life is like that. You never regret a race. The memory of the pain slowly leaves your body and you are left with the memory of the experience. Stitches happen throughout life, and they can’t be avoided, but they shouldn’t stop you from running the race. We should embrace the stitches, because when they subside, and the pain leaves your body, you feel so much better. Without pain you cannot feel real joy.
So when the going gets tough, keep running. If the pain gets too bad, take a moment to catch your breath, but do not let the pain stop you in your tracks. Put on some good tunes, surround yourself with good people, and try to enjoy it as best as you can. If the pain could have been avoided, learn from your mistakes, and next time try to avoid making the same ones. But you never know what the race has to bring. You can prepare as well as you know how, but you never know what life will bring you. Just enjoy the run with all its pain..and all its glory. And don’t run too fast, take your time to enjoy the experience.
That is what life is all about.