Day #13: “I wanna quit!”
It’s run through all of our heads: “I can’t run another step. I cannot get up with my alarm and hit the roads during the only opening in my schedule today. I cannot run today.” And in workouts and races, too, the urge to quit echoes. During the 11th 400m repeat on the track – the one coach just added on! – in the middle of that interval our hearts sometimes scream out – I cannot do it! And at mile 23 in the marathon, the zone of forgotten-ness of the marathon — where we suddenly find ourselves struggling for just the next step, and the finish line seems an impossible lifetime away. There again, that negative voice inside discourages us, laughs at us – “you aren’t going to finish.” And after 12 days of your running streak, as the glow and enthusiasm with which you started has faded and the weather has only gotten worse, that lurking voice speaks, “Why bother? What are you trying to do, anyway? Your goal is silly and started on a whim — and, whether you succeed at all is really out of your control anyway. Give it up!”
The question for the runner looms: What are you gonna do? Are you a quitter — or are you gritty, a fighter, determined to stay the course and trust in your original well-thought out intention. Will you abide by the game-plan or abandon it and give into uncertainty, exhaustion and — yeah, I’ll just go ahead and say it — FEAR? Will you crumble out of cowardice justifying your weakness with 100 reasons? Or will you fight through to the finish so that come tomorrow you have continued the streak, continued the fight?
The lure to quit is not just limited to our running lives. It calls out incessantly in all aspects of our lives. It beckons us to take the easy route. To stop risking and to begin to give up. At work and play and in our relationships it cautions us to play it safe. It reminds us not to dream too big or at all. It is a siren singing us to sleep — and its goal is to make us into the spectator! But Dr. George Sheehan reminds the gritty runner about the consequences of giving up: “From the moment you become a spectator, everything is downhill.”
What is so alluring about quitting anyway? The sugary promise of an end to the pain, the thought of relief after suffering, a remedy for despair or hopelessness? Ironically, I find that through gutting it out and finishing the run, I receive the antidote to my misery. It is in meeting the resistance head on that we grow and win. Finishing on these days is akin to starting on day #1. The resistance struggles — and when we grapple with it head on, we triumph. So, next time you wanna quit, run straight into the face of the resistance. This is how to run.
In closing today’s message, I am reminded of two quotes to help you through on these days of despair, both also by Dr. George Sheehan:
“I have met my hero, and he is me.”
“Have you ever felt worse after a run?”