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A Few Lessons from a "Middle of the Pack" Runner

My husband, CJ, is definitely a "front of the pack" runner and I love cheering him on! Our fireplace mantle is full of his running awards and I am so proud of all he has achieved. Because he is a fairly fast runner, many of our friends are fast "front of the pack" runners as well.

However, I tend to be more of a "middle of the pack" runner.

It is in this "middle of the pack" where I am joined by so many. And with a lot of hard work, I am improving. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever be a "front of the pack" runner even if I dedicated my whole life to the sport.  But I have slowly been learning to embrace who I am gifted to be.

This is a picture of me crossing the finish line in the 2013 Denver Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon at 2:15:30 where I qualified for the Ascent.

A Few Lessons...

Here are just a few of the lessons I've learned along my journey as a "middle of the pack" runner.

1) Always, always, always remember to have FUN!

If you lose the fun of running; then in the end, you lose. Make sure to keep some fun in your running.

2) Celebrate every time you are out there running.

No matter how fast or slow you are, celebrate every time you get out the door for a run. I have to often remind myself of the truth of this quote...

"No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch."

3) Express gratitude for your health.

Be thankful you are healthy enough to be out there running...no matter what speed you run.

Each run is a gift.

My dad had a traumatic brain injury in 2009 and sometimes he struggles to walk normally, let alone run. He is working with a trainer and is improving everyday.  However, he is a great reminder to me to be thankful for my health and my ability to run. If I start to get down about my running ability, I simply turn it around to gratitude...gratitude that I CAN still run. I never,ever want to take my health for granted.  

4) Comparison is the thief of joy.

This is true in all of life, really. When we start obsessively comparing ourselves to others, we will never measure up. I have to remind myself of this all the time with running. It is so easy to fall into the trap of wishing I was someone else (usually someone faster), instead of embracing who I am. I have learned to race against myself instead of everyone else. When I can achieve a new PR or accomplish a goal I set for myself, I celebrate...even when I don't place in my age group or win a medal. ;)

The BEST news?

"Middle of the pack" runners can still qualify for and be chosen for the PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners! How do I know this? Well, I am thrilled to announce that I was chosen (yes, me...a "middle of the pack" runner) to be part of the 2014 PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners team.

You can see a list of my teammates and read our bios here.

I'm excited, honored, and also a little apprehensive!! This is going to be one of the toughest things I have ever done, but I am up for the challenge!!

What kind of runner are you? Are you a in the "front of the pack" or "middle of the pack"?  What lessons have you learned along the way?  Share them in the comments below!

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Comment by Shelley Hitz on May 7, 2014 at 9:53am

Sean - I totally understand.  I still think healthy competition is different than obsessive comparison.  Just my opinion. :)

Brianne - I'm the same way!

Tim - Thank you!  I'm so honored to be part of such a great team.

Katie - I'm so grateful to be in the middle of the pack and not injured on the sidelines.  Hoping to stay injury free throughout this Triple Crown series!!

Comment by Katie Benzel on May 6, 2014 at 3:05pm

Middle of the pack is the best spot in the pack :)

Comment by Brianne Pierson on May 6, 2014 at 5:51am
I tend to get sucked into #4. I tend to run better when I'm just having fun and cheering others on- no matter how slow or how fast.
Comment by Tim Bergsten on May 5, 2014 at 8:33am

Fantastic read, packed with inspiration - much like the team itself :)

Comment by Sean O'Day on May 4, 2014 at 10:35am

#4 is a fun one.  To say I've never thought, "man, I'd LOVE to beat that guy" would be a flat-out lie.  But I've never placed any self-worth on that.  

I DO love comparing me to myself, though.  How hard have I worked leading into a race?  Was the journey worth it?  Did the result justify the amount of effort and preparation I dropped into the goal?  That's my joy factory right there.

(there's something creepy about the term "joy factory"...yikes!)


Comment by Shelley Hitz on May 4, 2014 at 10:17am

Thank you so much Vanessa...I'm excited!  Yay for other mid-packers :)

Comment by Vanessa Shawver on May 4, 2014 at 10:05am

Go Mid-Packers! I'm right there with you! You are going to have a blast this year! :)

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