By Alex Gold
The coronavirus is becoming a big factor in all our lives and apparently, our spring running season as well. School and track practices are canceled, most races, potentially the Olympics, professional sports and more are either canceled or at risk. But the world is not ending. I think that this time has a lot of potential depending on how we handle it.
Some people will allow this to affect the way they approach their training and others won’t. Successful athletes set goals with the following lesson in mind: control what you can. When you set goals like winning an event or qualifying for a race, your goal is dependent on things outside of your control (how opponents perform, injuries, illness, weather, etc). Winning is fun, but you must be able to look at it objectively. For example, this past weekend, our high school girls had a goal to place first team all-state in the 4x800m relay at the Ohio Indoor State Meet. Our relay ran great for our current fitness levels and our time would have placed sixth last year (all-state), but this year, the race was faster and we got 10th. Each girl gave everything they had to try and get us back into the top eight. Afterwards, I was super happy with the performance because we did everything in our power to try and get first team all-state. Even though we failed, I believe that it was a successful day. If your season or goal race has been canceled but you prepared yourself to achieve your goal (and maybe even run it in a time trial), you should be proud.
Which brings me to my next point: know your “why.” I was just talking to one of my best friends who had been out of shape but over the past year he worked his ass off so that he could qualify for the Boston Marathon—something that has always been on his bucket list. He is signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon, but it has been canceled. I told him that some of my friends were trying to organize an unofficial race if it did, and he said, “What’s the point? Boston won’t accept an unofficial time.”
The point is that last year, he was overweight and out of shape and did several months of work to get to where he is now. My friend had to put his ego aside and accept the fact that he is slower than he was in college, but train through it. Now he is back in shape to get a Boston qualifying time and “If you go out and run the time, whether it’s official or not, you did it and nobody on the Boston committee can take that away,” I told him.
Training for Boston has changed my friend’s life. He was lacking confidence and purpose after getting cut from our college team, but now he is in a much better place, not only physically, but mentally. I believe that each of us gets something out of running other than the medals and attention. When I started running, I loved it because I got tons of attention and loved winning. Over time though, I realized that it was really the feeling I got from doing something I wasn’t sure I could do that made running so special.
Find your “why” this spring. There will be days that you might lack motivation, but that will make it even sweeter if you overcome those days and get it done anyway. I know that there is a high likelihood that some people who read this will still let themselves give in, so prove me wrong. While this situation will be tough, there are also aspects that we can use to our advantage. For example, with school or work getting canceled, many of you will have more time. Some may use this time to sulk and feel sorry for themselves, not use it to get better. The coronavirus sucks, but it can’t infect your mind—only negativity can.