Our friend of the store, coach, and author Dave Griffin shared with us with a new essay. Enjoy!

Bachman Valley Half

I stood on the starting line of the October 1987 Bachman Valley Half Marathon seeking affirmation.

The race was in my hometown, but I didn’t know much about the runners standing next to me on the starting line.  Even worse, I didn’t know what to expect from myself.

I had been injured for most of 1986.  The early months of 1987 involved a gradual return to running.  When I finally transitioned to normal training, progress was slow.

My race results over the summer we unimpressive, a far cry from my pre-injury performances, and I was beginning to question whether I could ever get back to my peak racing fitness.

Bachman Valley began like all half marathons, running at a pace that feels comfortable in the early miles.  Some runners in the lead pack should have started more conservatively, and they dropped off soon enough.  By the time we reached the middle miles, there were just a few of us running together.

When you are racing a half marathon, the pace that felt good early gets harder in the later stages of the race.  I kept waiting for my body to break down, but it didn’t.  In the final miles, I was leading by myself.  I remember crossing the finish line almost in tears, feeling like I had reclaimed a part of myself that I had been missing.

I went on to run some of my best races in the years that followed, even returning to Bachman Valley to run my half marathon PR in 1988.

All that sounds good, doesn’t it?  I trained, prepared, and executed on race days.  What could be better?

Except it was never satisfying.  My perspective was unhealthy.  Winning wasn’t just a goal, it was a condition, without which I felt inadequate.

I’ve often wondered where those feelings came from.  I can’t remember anyone making me feel unworthy.  It was solely self-proclaimed, and almost always held privately.

Here’s the hardest part – it’s been over thirty years since my fastest racing days, and the demon still shows itself.  When I can’t run fast, however I define fast at a particular time, I feel devalued.

I’m ashamed to say all of this.  How can I justify these feelings when I’ve been the benefactor of good fortune?  And if I can be unkind to myself, how hard must it be for those who have been less fortunate?  How unfair must their internal voices be?

I could hide.  No one can see these feelings, and that’s exactly why I’m sharing them.

There’s too much unkindness in this world.  If we want to change that, one place to start is by being more kind to ourselves.

I’m starting a new dialog with myself.  I still want to run fast.  I would never want to quell that part of myself.  But instead of making demands, I want to feed my curiosity.  It’s a subtle difference, I know, but curiosity is a kind virtue.

I don’t know how fast I can run at this point of my life.  I just know that I can run faster if I’m inspired by the pursuit, and not weighted with self-applied pressure.

How about you?  Maybe it’s time for you to correct the internal voices, chatter that is unworthy of who you are.  Reject it, and in time we can make those voices powerless.

Only then will we discover the best of ourselves.