Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I run because they need me to...

For years running was purely a selfish endeavor. I ran to soothe my addled head. I ran to make myself stronger or faster. I ran to achieve a personal best. Then, I became a coach. The act of running became something else.

Most of the running I do is no longer about me. My running goals, aspirations, and dreams are largely an afterthought. My running has become a vehicle by which I inspire others to run faster, run farther,  or just simply 'run'.

Running has become my job.  I love my job, but it's still a job. I have bad days. I have days when I'm stressed out, feel crappy, or just don't want to get off the couch. I have days when I'm scared or just don't feel comfortable in my own skin for whatever reason. But, I still show up.

As I said recently to one of my most challenging clients, 'There are three valid reasons for not showing up. You're deathly ill, you're seriously injured, or you're dead. As far as I'm concerned, these are the only valid reasons for not showing up.'

I was being somewhat facetious when I said this, but this has always been my mindset when it comes to my job and perhaps it's because I view it as more than just a job. I'm not selling widgets. I'm directly impacting people's lives sometimes in ways I don't always fully comprehend.

I've seen firsthand the impact my mere physical presence can have on others. Occasionally, I will catch one of my runners walking. Their gaze is trained on the ground and slowly rises until they see me standing in the distance. Suddenly, their leisurely walk becomes a run. I didn't have to raise a finger. I didn't have to say a word.

It's nice to know just being physically present can impact people in a powerful way. But, my job often requires much more than just being physically present. It requires patience, compassion, intuition, creativity, humor, empathy, and some knowledge about running.

In short, my job is much more than just running. It's challenging in ways most people probably don't understand. I enjoy it most of the time, but like any other challenging occupation, there are times when I simply don't know if I can pull it off.

But on the days when I feel weak, I remind myself of the impact and importance of what I'm doing. Even if I'm not 100%, my presence can have an impact.  Ultimately, I run because they need me to...

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