No one’s watching

After a few miles of Saturday’s 30K trail run, I was trailing a group of runners when a guy approached from behind and asked to pass.

It couldn’t have been better timing as I pulled to the right, and then followed him as we zoomed by a handful of runners. “Might as well take advantage of the downhill,” I quipped.

In the brief conversation that ensued, one of his comments struck me. Probably because I’ve said something similar back when I was a bit more nimble and fleet of foot.

“You never know when you’re going to have a stellar day,” he said before racing off.

He was right. Plus, if you’re going to put in the training, you might as well make the miles count. If the day is right, you might just surprise yourself.

Negative thinking focuses on what might go wrong on race day: poor weather, a bad spot in the race corral, feeling a little less than optimal.

The opposite is true, though, too. What if everything goes right on race day? Are you prepared to capitalize on good conditions, some extra pep in your legs, a turn of fortune? Some of my best races came when I didn’t feel it would be a good day. All of the good ones – which is most of the races I’ve done – have one thing in common: a personal belief that things will go right. Sometimes you just need to hang in there long enough.

It all comes back to not knowing when you might have a stellar day. Often we can surprise ourselves if we are open to the possibilities and are willing to push ourselves.

So what will you do when no one’s watching?

The other day, as I was out for a recovery run while on vacation, I saw three words painted on the side of a school: Commitment. Character. Courage.

The next time I want to log easy miles, instead of intervals or a tempo run, I’m going to think about those words because I know when summer rolls around, it will be apparent what I did when no one was watching.

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