Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If You Must Fall...

...make it part of the run.

There are lots of mantras out there that talk about falling, getting back up and overcoming failure, and I'm paraphrasing one that Darcy put up in one of the bathrooms at the house. I'm sure you might have a similar mantra posted someplace in your house, too.

Overcoming failure -- or even just a bump in the road -- can be a tough thing to do sometimes. The biggest roadblock is that we equate past results with future events. It's kind of crazy how human beings have the intelligence and capability to send a satellite past Pluto and get pictures back in return, but if we have a bad run it can be so hard to overcome.

As a fan of the history of running, I enjoy looking at old pictures and watching old videos of past races, because there is so much inspiration to be gained from runners who have overcome crazy odds to find their path to success.

Here is a picture I came across a couple of days ago. I have seen it before a couple of times, but it never fails to give me a few goosebumps.

The photo is of great Finnish runner Lasse Viren, who on September 3, 1972, lined up in for the Olympic 10,000 meter final. Then 23 years old, Viren was taking the first step at an attempt to win the 5K/10K double.

About midway through the 25-lap race, Virren became tangled up with another runner and fell off the track into the infield, with Mohammad Gammoudi, who was a step behind, getting caught up in the wreck and going down as well.

An injured Gammoudi would drop out of the race a couple of laps later, while Viren immediately jumped to his feet and rejoined the race. What captures me -- and you can see it in the video I post at the bottom -- is how quickly Viren scrambled to his feet and started running.

Look at the photo again. From the moment he fell, his sole focus was to get back up and start running. He didn't hang his head, didn't feel like the race was over -- his vision was up the track towards the pack. A couple of accounts I read about that race say he looked almost "energized" by the fall.

Viren not only jumped up and caught up to the pack, just 10 minutes after this photo was taken, he had crossed the finish line in a world record time of 27 minutes, 38 seconds and had won his first gold medal. He had also covered the final mile in a time of 4:01.

Buoyed by that win, he followed that up with a second gold in the 5,000 a week later, then won both events in Montreal four years later. Amazingly enough, in Montreal he lined up for the marathon a day after winning the 5K and finished fifth!

But this photo is something we should all think about when we "fall" during a run -- whether that be literal (I hope not!) or metaphorical. If we do happen to go down, we should never hang our heads or feel sorry for ourselves, we need to make it part of the run!

As we rise from that disappointment our vision should never be focused down, or in the past, it should be on the path ahead, with a sense of determination and a never quit attitude. Viren had an excuse to give up, but he didn't -- he instead went on to win. We all have it in us to do the same!


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