For the past few years, I’ve coached my daughter’s soccer team.
Before every game, I always remind the players about the things we’ve worked on at practice.
“Remember to fight for the ball, remember how we do our corner kicks and don’t forget to take a lot of shots,” are the kinds of things I tell them.
And I end every pregame talk with this question to my players: “What’s my No. 1 rule in soccer?”
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“Have fun!” they shout.
My No. 1 rule in soccer has become my No. 1 rule in running: Have fun.
It hasn’t always been that way. When I first started running just over four years ago, my first rule was to finish. Then as I got faster and stronger, my first rule became to run fast and try for a personal record (PR).
But things have changed through the years. I am no longer worried about finishing. I’ve put in enough training that I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to finish. And if I don’t, that’s OK. There’s always another day.
I am certainly not focused on running a PR any more. I’ve gotten to the point where it’s going to take a really good day for me to PR, and that’s for any race, whether it be a full marathon, half-marathon or 5K.
Instead, my goal for my third marathon is to just have fun. I want to enjoy the experience, be in the moment during every moment, and take joy in the completion of this marathon journey.
I’ve earned this opportunity to enjoy myself. I’ve trained smart and worked hard. I’ve stayed committed and put in the time and energy to prepare myself for my third marathon. So I’m determined to enjoy it. Every minute of it. Even the part of it that hurts.
“What’s fun about a marathon?” Here are a few things:
• The trip. One reason I decided to do the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon was the opportunity to visit a great city. There are new things to see and do. And there’s the great weather, too. A lot of runners – including my Team In Training coaches – use marathons as a good excuse to travel around the country. So, I’m excited to enjoy my travels to Southern California.
• The vibe. There is such a great vibe at a marathon, with many healthy, positive people excited to be there. Everybody has put in a lot of training, and they’re all excited and happy. I will soak in all of those positive vibes. Of course, it helps to be there with Team In Training. You will not find a more positive, supportive group of people around.
• The challenge. Running a marathon is not easy. It can be quite painful, in fact. But I relish the opportunity to overcome the challenge. So I will smile a lot during the race, be determined to stick to my pacing plan, and enjoy the experience of overcoming the challenge.
• The celebration. One thing I think about during the difficult times during a long run is how I’m going to celebrate afterward. During my first marathon, also in San Diego, all I could think about was eating a big ice cream at Disneyland. I kept focusing on ice cream. This time I’ll be looking forward to celebrating with my teammates. And maybe a cold beverage or two.
The marathon is just a week away. I’m ready to complete marathon journey No. 3. It’s been fun training with Team In Training. And I look forward to sharing how it went with you.
I can promise you one thing: I’m going to have fun.
Want to try Team In Training?
If you’ve ever considered training for a marathon or half-marathon, and want to raise money for a great cause, give Team In Training a try. I love training with TNT and it’s for runners and walkers of all levels. For information, go to www.teamintraining.org/mail or call (800) 482-8326. The last chance to sign up for fall 2014 events will be at the kick-off celebration at 6:30 p.m. on June 12 at Modesto Centre Plaza, 1000 L St.