Now that the final week before the IMT DMM Weekend has arrived, the finish line is in sight: both the finish line of our chosen race and also the finish line of our training cycle!  Now is the time to look back and reflect upon those weeks of hard work and preparation.  For the lucky few, everything may have gone smoothly; for the rest of us, there are likely to have been setbacks (small or large) along the way.  Whichever is the case, we have put in whatever work we could – and now is the time to anticipate running the best race for our circumstances.  For some, this will be the first race over the distance (guaranteed PR!), others will be in peak form and hoping to tear up the course with specific time goals, some will be running for a cause or an individual, while yet others will be running to enjoy the experience.  We all have our motivations – and each is equally valid.

Crossing the finish line is the highlight of any race!  I don’t think there has ever been a race finish line that I was not happy to see or one I did not feel proud to cross.  Even if it had been a bad race, I might have experienced disappointment before or afterward – but when I crossed the finish line, there was always a feeling of achievement.  And sometimes, the satisfaction of having persevered through a tough race can seem like a more extraordinary accomplishment than simply romping to an easy PR!

One of the things I appreciate about running is its ‘honesty.  If you work hard and are consistent in your training, you will see results.  This may be in the form of faster race times or training paces – or for those less interested in competition, the ability to run further and more easily.  However, it also teaches us to be patient, as those improvements do not happen overnight.  Running can also provide us with the occasional ‘reality check’ – another helpful life lesson.

Despite our best intentions or most meticulous planning, life can throw us a curveball, be it in the form of an injury, unexpected commitments that interfere with training, unfavorable weather conditions on race day, and so on.  In response, we have to learn to adapt and reset our expectations.  Hopefully, you will have survived the training cycle and used what you have learned along the way to create challenging yet realistic goals for the coming race.  The experience of training is in itself an accomplishment, no matter what happens on race day.  And always remember: no matter how large or small a part of your life running has become, it does not define you.  Your identity as a runner may be significant to you – but your value as a human being is not measured by your race times!

Now it is time to embrace and enjoy the well-earned rest that comes in taper time, after the more intense training that has occupied our lives for many weeks.  The work is done – and the most important thing now is to allow ourselves the physical and mental break to recover fully and be ready to run our best race on Sunday.  Very soon, we will be celebrating as we cross the finish line on Court Avenue!  Have a great run!

by Shelia Maddock

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