I love to run, to step out and rhythmically let my mind slip into my own little running bubble. I wasn’t always like this. I started out only being able to walk and then eventually walk/jog. It was during this period of my life, about 5 years ago, that I met my wife. We enjoyed strolls around the neighborhood and local parks. We logged mile after mile together walking and slowly jogging. It was an “us” activity. Something happened to both of us over the last couple of years. The running bug bit us and now we spend 6 to 8 hours a week on the roads and trails and countless dollars on shoes and gear.
Once we both started to run regularly it became apparent that I was just naturally a faster runner than her. Not that we tried to compete against each other. Eventually on our runs I would take short side roads up and back and then back to her pace but she could tell she was holding me back. So she let me go and do my thing. I am a competitive guy. I have played sports my whole life and I was drawn to running races and she had no interest in racing but loved to run. Once I started to train for a goal race my training took over our “us” activity and I would only spend about 10 minutes once or twice a week warming up at her pace before taking off.
We discovered trail running almost a year ago and now we both have added to our addiction since the trails are easier on your joints we have been able to increase our miles faster and the extra muscles used got us stronger. After having ran the Harbison State Forest trails a few times I took the M out for a loop around the Firebreak trail. Although the significant decrease in pace did discourage her at first the sense of accomplishment hooked her. The trails became special to both of us and even if we weren’t running together we were under the same canopy of trees and the dirt we were scrapping our knees and hands in were intimately connected as one.
One day while starting one of our runs at Harbison State Forest with a light rain coming down the M asked me to run with her because of the weather and us not being sure the trail would be closed once we got a few miles in. I ran the Firebreak loop with her. I focused on cadence and increasing my foot speed things I never have time for when I’m speeding down the trail. I was able to practice form with a lot more awareness. I also proudly watched my M cross a flooded trail segment on a fallen tree which was pretty cool.
Fast forward to today and our rainy day Firebreak run has turned into a weekly run that we both enjoy. We get to run together, I get to pace her to PRs and we have time to remember things we wanted to talk to each other about but have slipped our minds in the hustle bustle of our everyday lives.
I am currently training for a trail 50K and I have incorporated my Tuesday runs with the M into my training plan and I think it has improved my running immensely even though I am running at a pace that my ego would never let me run before F3.
That brings me to the purpose of my post. My ego, like many of many of you I’m sure, was pretty big. I believe my ego is part of what drew me to F3 in the first place. The ego loves the first F. F3 has helped me corral that ego. The other two Fs have made their way into my life and my outlook on training and competition has changed. I am faster than some and slower than some. I am stronger than some and weaker than some. No matter how fast or strong you are someone out there is faster and stronger. The only thing that matters is that you are improving yourself and becoming the man that is the rock for his family and a pillar for the community. Once you realize this and free yourself of the burden of always wanting to be the best instead of being the best you can be you can then improve yourself through others and help others improve, which turns out to be way more satisfying.