Dave Griffin On Running: Talent and Passion

Dave Griffin On Running
Talent and Passion

He was just finishing his workout as I ran onto the track, and it just so happened that we both stopped to stretch at the same place and the same time. I asked him how he was doing, and I could feel the frustration in his response.
He was young, maybe 20, and I could tell he was a good runner. His talent was equaled by his passion, so my heart went out to him as he told me about the challenges he was facing.
He could hardly get through the workout he had just finished, and his times were slower than he was shooting for. It had been like that for a while, and he couldn't seem to break away from the sluggishness. He wanted it to be like it had been when he was running well and improving consistently.
When he was ready to walk away, I found myself wanting to offer something that would help, but all I could manage was "Hang in there. Things will get better."
As I started my own workout I began thinking about the missed opportunity. I had a chance to have an impact on this young runner and I wondered if I had been helpful at all.
I spent the rest of my workout thinking about how I used to feel when my stride wasn't restricted by old joints. There were times when it seemed like I could have run as fast and as far as I wanted. I remember dreaming about faster times and then accomplishing the workouts that would lead toward my goals. Races were playgrounds.
I also remember when it hadn't been so easy. There were long stretches, sometimes a year or more, when I couldn't find rhythm in my running.
When my workout was over, I stopped in the same spot to stretch again, and I noticed he had left his sweatshirt behind. Just as I was about to leave, I saw him walking toward me.
There was an awkward moment as he wondered why I was waiting for him, but it dissolved into good conversation as I shared my story. I think it helped him to know that what he was going through wasn't unusual.
Then I told him something that he wasn't expecting, something he might not understand until a few more years pass by. The human spirit has a deep rooted need to be tested, and potential can never be fully realized until the spirit is strong. So, I told him, even as hard as things seemed, he was developing in ways he might not yet fully appreciate, and the worst thing he could ever do, is give up.
Some people think that life would be better if things always went exactly the way we wanted them to, but I'm not convinced that's true. Fulfillment would be hard to find in a world where success was handed out like free samples at the grocery store.
So, as you crave what you want in life, try to understand that the journey towards success is just as important as whatever prize you're chasing. After all, in the end, it's not really what you get that matters; it's what you become.

Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching to high school and adult runners of all levels. Contact Dave at dpgflyingfeet@aol.com