Photo Credit: Unknown
One of the biggest regrets from my running career was quitting too soon on my potential in the 3000-meter Steeplechase. I ran the American all-time best for my age group the one time I ran it just before I was a teenager. I did not run the Steeplechase again until after my college career. When I did try the Steeplechase, I went out way too fast with a 5000-meter Olympian named Don Clary and several other experienced veterans in the event.
I ran the mile in 4:00.10 that year, so my speed was pretty solid going into the event. Maybe a little too good because the pace felt comfortable in the beginning.
I went into oxygen debt badly after the third lap and finished with a decent but not stellar time. The time was pretty good, considering that it was my first time running the event as an adult. I had just gone out at a pace in the race that was unsustainable for a rookie.
I never ran the event again because, at the time, I thought I had performed awful. A couple of weeks later, a world-class runner friend of mine said I was a quitter. He hit me right between the eyes where it hurt. No one in my entire life had ever said I was a quitter at anything. He stated that I should run it differently next time, and my time would be much faster.
My friend's heart was to get me to try the race again because he knew the circumstances of why I did not run well. My blind spot was not seeing my potential in the event and quitting the event way too soon. My other blind spot was not listening to the advice of a good friend.
We all have blind spots in our life—every single one of us. The fog of life is thick when seeing our faults in marriage, school, interpersonal relationships, and even sports performance. We need others we trust to help us identify and navigate our blind spots and tell us the truth.
The truth is that many times we don't see things as they are. People we trust and respect can show us the truth in various life situations if we are open to change. We need to check pride and ego at the door for others' good and our good.
The truth sets you free in all life areas, including when you look into the mirror without rose-colored glasses.
If you want to test your ego and pride limits, get three or four people together who you trust and are competent enough to tell you the truth about what they see in your parenting, career, or interpersonal relationships. You can save decades of pain by enduring this type of short-term feedback and honesty by people who you know and trust and who are emotionally healthy themselves.
Rather than complaining about the speck in our brother's or sister's eyes, we need to take a look at the plank in our own eyes first.
By the way, I never did try the Steeplechase again. The Steeplechase probably would have been my best track event if I had kept at it.
I eventually listened to my friend's advice in a different context years later. I remembered his harsh yet right words in the most painful moments of the original Ultimate Runner Competition (10k, 400 meters, 100 meters, a mile, and marathon, all completed on the same day) years later. I wasn't going to quit at an event that was new to me this time. I could hear the remnants of the words "don't be a quitter" in my mind as I approached the final stages of the race.
My friend's painful rebuke years earlier in my career help me win the biggest race of my life. His words rang true and never went away (to this day, I remember them vividly).
Listen to those people who can help you see your blind spots in life. If you do, the best performance of your life may be one step away. And, if you have ignored good advice for years, it's never too late to put positive changes in place that will help you when new opportunities arise.
The Original Ultimate Runner Competition consisted of running a 10k, 400 meters, 100 meters, a mile, and a marathon all on the same day. The race no longer exists in its original form. It was the hardest race I ever ran.