Joy - An Article By Ryan Middleton
Ryan Hall is known as the fastest US Marathoner in History. When people within the endurance world discuss his career, they often bring up his commanding win in the 2008 US Olympic Trials, or his amazing 2:04 effort to finish 4th at the Boston Marathon in 2011, which still holds as the current US marathon record.
A race that most people do not recall is his 2:08 finish at the Boston Marathon in 2011 to finish 4th. This was an unusual finish. As the top guys made their turn onto Boylston street for the finish, Hall was gaining on third. And truth be told, a podium spot was his for the taking. As spectators rallied behind Hall, and cheered him on fully expecting him to take third, Hall slows down. Not because he had no kick, but he intentionally slows, stretches out his arms as if her were an airplane, and begins to run in zig zags. Everyone watching was bewildered. Why would he do this? Why would he throw away a podium spot at the most prestigious marathon in the world? Ryan takes his 4th place finish with a smile on his face.
As you can imagine, everyone wanted to know why he would do such a thing. When being interviewed afterwards, Hall’s response was something that I would never forget. He stated, ““Running is about total freedom for me. I was out there having a good time. I don’t care about podiums or setting records. I ran with joy”.
There is a lot to be said for waking up early, putting in the long training hours, and accomplishing goals. It truly is an admirable trait. The consistency that is required to truly experience success in any sport is a true mark of self discipline. If we are all honest, we can often get lost and sometimes even unhealthily obsessed with PRs, podiums, records, finishes, etc. It is great to have these goals, and our task as coaches is to guide and encourage you along the way. However, never let any of this be at the expense of your joy. Grab ahold of the joy that you had when you began this sport, and NEVER let it go. Of course there is joy in accomplishing goals. But I encourage you to find joy in the sunrises and sunsets you encounter while you are out there. Find joy in the sweat pouring down on those hot days. Find joy in your heart pounding and your lungs working. Find joy in the camaraderie along the way. Find joy in the relationships formed. Whether it is a workout day, or a recovery day, find joy in the opportunity.