Dave Griffin on Running –The Carroll County Times – Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dave Griffin on Running –The Carroll County Times – Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tuesdays with Morrie, written by Mitch Albom, is a book about life, as seen through the eyes of a wise man who’s dying.  Morrie, one of Albom’s old college professors, had Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He was slowly but surely dying; his body was becoming a useless, curling bundle.

And yet, Morrie was more alive than anyone I’ve known personally. He embraced each day and relished his relationships. And, he wanted to teach the wisdom he’d taken from his life and through his illness. Mitch Albom became his student for one last class.

Tuesdays with Morrie has nothing to do with running. But I was looking for something meaningful to share with the members of Flying Feet, and I sometimes find those things in unlikely places.

In the coming weeks, my runners will be running some important races. They have been preparing since June, and I know they’re ready physically. But sometimes that’s the easy part. Having faith once the preparation is complete can be much harder.

I’m not sure I can fully articulate why that’s true. The reasons are too complex. Human experience is too diverse.

All I can say for sure is each person’s challenges are unique. Some people lack confidence; they’re plagued by the persistence of doubtful voices.  Other people question their own worthiness, wondering if they even deserve success.

And so, after months of preparation and with only a short time separating my runners from their big race, I wanted to share something to help them get passed all that.

Before one of our workouts, I stood in front of the group and read a few paragraphs that ended with one of Morrie’s profound lessons; “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

I gave them a moment to think about what I read, and I could see shaking heads and knowing smiles.

We try to ignore the things we fear, but they always lurk close by; we can see the dark shadows as we look over our own shoulder, and our fear becomes our greatest constraint.

We fear failure.  We think it devalues us.  We’re concerned about what others might think, and so we cower, never recognizing the self sabotage that precedes a failed attempt.

This is hard stuff.  No one can work through it for you, it’s an internal battle that’s won or lost in private contemplation. 

Runners are lucky.  We have a circle of support.  When one of us succeeds, others celebrate because we know what success requires.  When one of us fails, others give support because we know how much it hurts. 

The trick is to give yourself the same unconditional acceptance because, using Morrie’s wisdom, once you learn how to fail, you learn how to succeed. 

Death is a part of life just as failure is a part of success.  Ready yourself.  Make peace.  Only then can you fully immerse yourself in the pursuit of what you want from running and from life.