Saturday, February 9, 2013

Life Lesson: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

This morning I did a duathlon, a race combining both running and cycling (3-mile run, 24-mile bike, and another 3-mile run). I'm training for a long triathlon so I thought this would be good practice. Several times today, the temptation to quit crossed my mind.

The first temptation came before I even left my house. When prepping to leave, it started snowing. I didn't want to ride with the roads being wet, especially when I can hit 30 miles per hour PLUS on a good downhill. Also, I questioned why I left my hot, comfortable bed to torture myself in the cold and the wet. A quick confirmation on the Internet showed that it shouldn't get too wet and I knew if I went to bed I'd regret it later. To the race I went.

Overall, I had fun. My intention was never to break any speed records, only to finish and get a good workout. Was it cold? Actually, it wasn't. It was freezing! I did the first three-mile run in my warmup clothes and pondered my sanity when I took them off to hit the cycling stage.

After the cycling ended, I transitioned into the second run, and things went downhill in a hurry. About a half mile into the run my right leg cramped. It hit mid-step and I cried out in surprise. What muscle was that? I did a series of stretches, trying to work it out, but nothing I did seemed to isolate that muscle. Running was impossible and walking hurt like crazy. I turned around and started my walk-of-shame back to the transition area, which was also the finish line.

I took a few steps and stopped myself. I knew, deep down, that if I quit then I would be extremely upset. So I did another 180 and continued the running route. After limping for a bit the pain dulled and my steps turned into a walk. After about 100 yards the cramp went away completely and I kind of laughed at myself. Close call, I almost quit over nothing. I started running again, but within a quarter of a mile it cramped all over again.

I tried to isolate the muscle through a series of stretches again, but couldn't find it. I considered turning around, but I was doing two 1 1/2-mile loops and figured that if I continued I'd only have to go a little further than if I turned around then. Another 100 yards of limping and walking got me running again.

And about a half mile later it hit again.

I thought of every excuse in the book to finish off this one loop and call it a day. Continuing this run was downright irresponsible of me; I could do some permanent injury if I kept this up. I already got a good workout and I already had the race shirt, so the only thing I'd be missing is the finisher's medal. Heck, this one lap was taking longer than the first two times I ran it; I could easily skip the turnaround spot and run (or limp or crawl or whatever I had left) into the finish line, collect my medal, have a better finish, and nobody would be the wiser.

Nobody, but me--I wasn't going to claim a medal I didn't deserve. When I got to the turnaround spot I turned around for my second loop. I lost track of how many times that shooting pain hit, but I would guess it was six or seven times. It turned into a routine: run (okay, let's be honest--slowly jog), pain, yelp in surprise, limp, walk it off, and start all over again.

I finished that race! I can look myself in the mirror and know I didn't cut any corners and that I deserved that finishing medal. And the guy who ran it twice as fast as me and left everybody else in the dust? He got the exact same medal. Ha!

Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy. Feelings and thoughts of self-doubt can stop us from doing the best we can. Yeah, I didn't win first place, but I did the best I could and I'm happy with that. Cheating or giving in to the negative impulses is a huge setback when trying to achieve goals. Why? Because the next time it is easier to quit. Easier to give in. Easier to surrender. Easier to cheat yourself of being the best you can be.

We all have goals in life. Whether it is to run a certain distance, have a book published, play for Notre Dame Football for two plays, or any number of things, these feelings and impulses seem to always strike when the finishing point is just a little bit further down the road. Usually, the temptation to quit isn't because of what remains of the journey. If you've done it right then you've nearly killed yourself to get as far as you did. It is when we are tired, worn out, and beaten up that we wonder if it is all worth it.

If it is important to you, then it is totally worth it!

Here is an inspiring video of other people who didn't give up. I think it is safe to say that we've all been blessed because of several people in this video.

Edit: One more thing...

33 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed this. Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for writing such a wonderfully inspirational article, you are right, never give up no matter what!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very good publication ! Congratulations :0) Philippe TREBAUL

    ReplyDelete
  4. great post - quitting shouldn't be an option

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good post, however CHANGE is always necessary in life. I've seen a awful lot of people who have 'QUIT' something to take on and succeed in a new venture.

    I'm not sure Richard Branson would be ss rich as he is - if hadn't quit delivering papers.. :-)

    Sometimes you have to "QUIT" to succeed :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true, which is why I stressed "if it is important". I've had to quit a few things (Internet gaming for one) to focus on more important things. I do appreciate the comment. :)

      Delete
  6. Never give up - just do it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great article. I believe that this kind of resolve a person has is instilled at a young age. I know I would die trying to accomplish what I started but I don't exactly know why?

    ReplyDelete
  8. keep it up James - will follow with interest

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post. I understand about imposing your will on a situation. It feels so good when it quits hurting!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great stuff about attitude, can do can do, can't do can't do!

    ReplyDelete
  11. "I do it because i can, I can because I want to, I want to because you said I couldn't."
    - Unknown

    ReplyDelete
  12. The fear of failure is many times worse than the actual event. If you've never failed, you've probably never really challenged yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I greatly enjoyed reading this. I, myself, at certain points in my life (it seems to come and go) was a runner and ran quite good. I committed to running The Cooper River Bridge Run which was just over six and a half miles. It was four months away and I just completely didn't train. Don't know why. The day of the race came and I literally smoked three cigarettes before the race, had two cups of coffee, and ate some creatine. I didn't think I stood a chance in hell at finishing. fifty eight minutes later I actually crossed the finishing line. I don't know how, maybe it was all the people, but I was in no shape to go that distance. But I did. Couldn't walk for three days afterward. Got my photo of myself running, and I even dreamed about worrying about the race that night even though it was already over. Just goes to show you. We dont know what we are capable until we really push ourselves and refuse to give up. Great write. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  14. Never give up should be life's them for sure. Imagine how many people gave up just one phone call, one more book, one more contact, one more try from the result they wanted!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good job, I have done about 10 triathlons, and it is pretty much walk, jog at the end of each...the accomplishment is the greatest

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is amazing, Charles! Thanks for the comment (and the inside scoop for my upcoming tri).

      Delete
  16. There is a Native American tribe with that same motto. Never Quit they say as a greeting and as a farewell. They inhabit the oldest known pueblo in North America and are known as the Acoma. I visited there soon after my wife had passed away from a horrible bicycle accident. Went over a cliff on a mountain road. Lost everything I loved and cared about most in life. It was some time before I was able to recover emotionally from the shock. It was the example of the Acoma people which brought me out of my depression when I went to live with one of their elders for a time. What hardships they had to endure when the Europeans came. Yet persevere they did and so have I.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great Story! I enjoyed that one!
    "He got the exact same medal. Ha!"
    ^That line got a chuckle out of me.^
    - http://goo.gl/gVcEn

    ReplyDelete
  18. Awesome post and very inspiring. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Love it! Glad you kept going. Those distances actually sound do-able.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great story James...make sure you hang that medal next to your tough mudder headband

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great post thanks - I do duathlons too and I'm a writer. Must be something about the combo. Keep the inspiration coming :O)

    ReplyDelete