Love the first few paragraphs in this post:
I’m a pretty competitive person. When I run a race (and I run a lot of races), I really do try my hardest, even though I often risk injury. I’ll get to the race determined to do better. I’ll work my hardest. But often, race conditions (especially crowding or lack of water), the race course, or my own lack of training will get in the way. And I’ll come in 30 seconds, or even less, later than I wanted to. So close, but yet so far.
Near misses like these really bother me. I grump around for days. I start training again far sooner than I should, because I need to do better next time. I’m determined not to humiliate myself again. It’s silly, the only person I’m really racing is me, but I want that “win” very badly all the same. And often, I really do wish I could just let it go, just run for the love of running.
So it always astonishes me when I talk to some older runners. Many people keep running now just fine, well into their 70s, and some of them even still race. But they do it so…casually. They don’t train with that hard-eyed intensity anymore. They don’t seem to mind if the race goes a little badly. They run a race, it feels pretty good to run, and they shrug it off. They certainly don’t grouse the way I, and other runners my age, often do after races.
Why do the races not bother them anymore? I thought maybe it was just long time exposure to racing and running. After all, if you’re still running after 5 decades or more, you really do love to run. But if you keep the love of running, why does the disappointment at your performance fade? Why do they seem to regret the “losses” less? Some of them have told me that I won’t mind it either, when I’m older. But right now, it’s hard to feel like I’ll ever be able to shrug it off. Could I really end up with fewer running regrets?