Marshal Your Ambition

“He wanted to impart some of the truths Bruce Denton had taught him, that you don’t become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.

When I was little my Dad would help me with my math homework. He would sit with me for hours helping me understand what I had gotten wrong and, more importantly, why I had gotten it wrong. There was one mistake in particular that I would make over and over and over again, one that was the root of all my problems – skipping steps.

Math has always been something that has come relatively easily to me. In high school and college, that gift allow me to learn and work more effectively and efficiently, but when I was much younger, it was merely an excuse to be lazy. I would try to take shortcuts or do math in my head or not write out the full equation. Doing everything step by step just took so much time and energy. I wanted to do things fast; I wanted instantaneously results. But almost every time I did that, every time I tried to jump ahead, somewhere along the way, things would go wrong. I would miswrite a number or an operation or drop a minus sign. I would reach a mathematical dead end or become lost in a never ending system of equations, one full of too little information and way too many unknowns. Sometimes I would wind up with an answer, but it wasn’t the right one.

My Dad would look at the jumbled, disjointed work on the page and then at me and say, “You have to be patient, Rachey. You have to do things carefully and in order. Skipping steps is not going to lead you to the right answer.”

It is week 2 of my Fall 2016 season and already I am chomping at the bit. I want to be at full mileage; doubling every other day. I want to do 16 mile long runs and 6 mile tempos and mile repeats. I want to be in amazing shape. I want to be in the kind of shape that makes you ravenous, the kind that makes you look at the split on your watch and stare in astonishment. I want to be on the starting line of the first real race I’ve got planned for myself in September, ready to go out show the world what I can do. I want it all right now or, better yet, yesterday.

My exuberance to begin my fall campaign stems mostly from the simple fact that I am me – undeniably impatient and excitable sometimes to a fault – but there are a number of other factors adding fuel to the flames:

  1. I missed the entire fall season last year after being diagnosed with a pelvic stress reaction in late July. Just after I had set my fall racing schedule, a racing schedule which would have me testing myself on the USATF road racing circuit for the very first time, the pain in my pelvis cropped up and everything came to a screeching halt. The physical injury was devastating, the emotional one even worse. But after a year of ups and downs, I can confidently say that I am the healthiest I have ever been both physically and mentally. I am ready to take on the fall and the roads and anything else life throws at me.
  2. I’ve just joined a new team. Nothing renews your love of running and racing like a fresh start. As a member of the Heartbreakers, I’ll be surrounded by a number of other runners with similar aspirations as mine, namely, to be competitive on the national stage. For the first time in almost 3 years, I am going to have real training partners again, which I have no doubt is going to make a huge difference in the both the quality of my training as well as my overall happiness while I’m training. The fact that we are going to be competing as team throughout the fall, on both the roads and the cross country course, is another thing that I am stoked about.
  3. In addition to my family, friends and team, I now have another group in my corner: the rabbit running apparel community. Between rabbit’s co-founders and fearless leaders, Monica and Jill, and the herd of fellow rabbit apparel enthusiasts, RADrabbits and RADrabbitPROs, my support system now literally spans from coast to coast. With rabbit sponsoring me, a whole new part of the post-collegiate running world has opened up to me. My running and my pursuits and my achievements now represent and stand for something greater, and that is an incredibly exciting and motivating thing.

But, despite my excitement and the temptation to lunge forward in my training, I know that I know I must wait.

I know I must do things slowly and correctly and in the right order if I want to achieve the high goals I have set for myself.

Ambition is essential; it is the spark which ignites my internal competitive fire. Without it, there will be no achievement of goals. Without it, there might not even be any goals at all.

But ambition and fire must be controlled and contained.

Because once unleashed, wildfire consumes all in its path.

So I will wait. I will be in the here and now. I will focus on the process and the little things and on making each and every day count.

And then one day, probably when I least expect it, it will be time.

Time to be unleashed.