Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Excitement of Enduring ~ Life Lessons From The Olympics

Two of my absolute favorite moments over the weekend came from the most unexpected events.

I've never been thrilled with the really long races in either the pool or on the track. I guess I want more action  than that. I want to wonder who's going to win. Frequently in endurance races, the outcome is clear well before the race is actually over.

Saturday, I didn't care.

Did you watch Katie Ledecky win the 800m freestyle? Incredible. Absolutely incredible!

100m freestyle in 1912. Swimming has come a long way
since then. Photo from Wiki Commons. 
The best part was hearing the announcers saying she was messing up for going so fast. They said that even her coaches were talking about how she needed to let up for the first few hundred meters, save her energy, let the veterans set the pace.

Sometimes it's great to see the people who "know" get proven wrong. It was clear well before she touched the wall that Katie Ledecky was going to win the gold medal, but that didn't make it any less exciting to watch. Fifteen years old and saying to all of those who think they know better, "Just watch. I know what I'm doing."

And then the men's 10,000m run. Never would I have thought I'd be gripped by a group of men running in circles for six and half miles. Watching Farah win, knowing the importance of his race to the country, and then his US training partner coming from behind to take second. It was wild.

The race was so close. Watching them sprint for the finish you would have thought the race had been 400 meters instead of 10,000.

I don't think I had ever appreciated the skill of endurance more than those two moments.

Mo Farah running for Great Britain.
Photo from Wiki Commons.
Maybe it's because I'm older. I appreciate the fact that sometimes it takes longer to accomplish things. I look at how long most authors have to endure before they get published, and I realize that it's a race that requires staying power and longevity.

Life requires staying power. Losing weight, learning a new skill, obtaining a degree or promotion, all of these things take time and are done little by little.

Ledecky didn't jump into the pool twenty meters before everyone else. She just slowly built her lead until her triumph was awesome, even to her competitors. Farah didn't lead until the very end, but he kept at it, knowing what he was capable of, knowing that it wasn't who led for 9,500 meters, but who crossed the finish line first.

Are there things in your life that require endurance? Long term goals that require short frequent steps to reach? Don't give up. Hang in there and you can do it.

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