Do Our Mistakes Make us More?
By Natalie Lincoln
Image © Brian Jackson / Fotolia
Clicking on a Functional Running piece by Coach Will ‘10 Mistakes Some Runners Just Have to Make’, I expected to have made all ten. Surprisingly, and with a hint of smugness, I thought, ‘ha, you’ve not made ANY of these mistakes!’ Immediately after this came the realisation that the reason for this is my control. Most, no, all things I do are measured, running included.
I suspect Coach Will wrote the piece to highlight that runners are stubborn and don’t like being told what to do. However, on the flip side, if I allowed myself to make these mistakes, I would be a better runner. I am certainly not perfect at all that I do, but geez, I do like to try!
As it stands, these are the mistakes from the perspective of one who has realised the benefits of making them:
- I really don’t think I’ve ever bonked. Sure, I’ve gotten tired but never to the point of paralysis. Probably this is because I eat, I never run very fast (so pacing is certainly not an issue) and I do nothing without preparation. I love people who decide their first race will be an Ironman or an ultra. It boggles my mind but I love it. I’m a step by step kind of girl; getting to the point of doing an ultra has been a journey through 20 kilometre races, followed by a two day race with two half marathon distances and now the 50 kilometre. I would love to just bust out and say, ‘to heck with that, I’m doing a 100k!’ To those of you who push yourself based on self-belief rather than ‘preparation’, I salute you.
- Whatever the opposite of cocky is, that’s me. I know how far I’m up to with running and have never thought, ‘I’ll just keep going,’ even when I could have. Rather than annoying people with my over confidence, I annoy them with my under confidence. Other people have way more belief in me than I do myself, which is nice, but then I think they’re just being kind.
- Chafing mystifies me. I think I’ve had it happen once. About this I may well be cocky as I seem to get away with it. I’ve even asked people about it.
“So, tell me about this chafing thing.”
“Oh, chafing!” is the all-knowing reply that seems to border on awe and reverence for chafing’s ability to strike. Further mystified (I mean, I get it from an intellectual point of view), I just slather on stuff for good measure; I would never ignore the words of runners who have felt that pain.
- While I do run with a phone, it only comes out for the occasional group photo to boast about where I’ve been out on the trails and even then it’s relatively rare. I take terrible photos at the best of times and while I’m good at some things, the selfie is not one of them – I have no sense of the pout or the required angle to make those thing work. Hence, a phone dent wouldn’t happen. It is carried in a pocket of my pack but even then it’s not used as there’s no service out bush anyway.
- While luckily, thanks to genetics, I don’t own a ‘runner’s belt’, I do tend to believe that running gives me the right to eat anything I please, especially if it’s chocolate. That’s part of the allure of running, right? This is a mistake I probably do make but so far, get away with it, so don’t think it counts.
- I have never been lost. I like to think it’s because I have an amazing sense of preparation. In reality it’s because of what you read in points 1 and 2, and I don’t tend to wander from what I know. I love the stories of my friends about the time they went out for a couple of hours but came back six hours later. My friend’s spouse went out one day and didn’t come back until well after dark, with no head torch and no warm gear (it was winter) and while this scenario fills me with dread, it’s kind of cool (in a dangerous way…see, I can’t get away from the level headedness). I want a story like this. After I get this ultra done, I’m actively going to try to get myself just a little bit lost…but only a little bit… Within reason… Watch the news, you might see me getting a ride in a chopper or something.
- I don’t fall over. I don’t do injury. I don’t do pain. I imagine myself lightly bounding down those hills, agile and speedy. In reality, I’m well controlled and definitely within my limits. My only saving grace with this is that compared to some, I manage to sometimes do this quicker than others I’ve seen, which surprises me. I did actually fall not long ago (just on a flat bit). It was cool. I even looked for evidence of the blunder; the trail gods were not happy that day, but no, nothing; all skin intact. Bummer. I want war wounds.
- Conservative should be my middle name. I’ve negative split a marathon and while this sounds like a good thing, in reality, it is merely evidence of how slowly I did the first part. If maybe I’d let myself go a little quicker initially, maybe I could have held that and overall gone faster. I’ll never find out. I envied those people I passed that day at the 35km mark because I knew they’d gone out and tried. It had kind of failed but at least they’d tried.
- See point 2 for this one. What more can I say? It would not be my style to increase distance too quickly. Like the stepping stone approach I take to racing, increasing distance fits into the same category.
- I’m a sun safe girl. I wear sun cream. That is what sensible people do. I am sensible. If ‘conservative’ is my middle name, then ‘sensible’ is my last. Oh, and I run in the bush; handy for sun cover. See, even my much preferred style of running caters to my sensibility.
As I sit here writing this, I feel incredibly boring (‘yes, we know!’ I hear you cry). I am a teacher; I philosophically believe in making mistakes and using those to improve. I adore the runners who have made the ‘10 mistakes’. I envy them immensely. It’s a hard task to become less organised, less prepared, less cautious, less Girl Scout-like but I know if I wonder, if I did, would I become more of a runner?