Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
With training cycles beginning in earnest for those fall races on our calendars, it’s easy to start imagining the goals that are tied to the races. For some, it may be to finish happy. For others, it might be wanting to run a certain time. And for others, it could be dreaming of running faster than ever before.
I love the sport of running but I have come to realize that what I love most of all is the training. It doesn’t matter the race distance—5k, half marathon, marathon—in the weeks and months leading up to the race, I’m giddy with excitement. Training hard brings me happiness. That feeling after a tough workout that you smashed. Or that feeling when you have a breakthrough race. Or that feeling when your entire body is sore from a hard, long run.
Training gives me a sense of purpose each day and allows me to try to be just a little bit better than I was yesterday.
But what happens if things don’t go as planned and you don’t run the race you want or were trained for?
For years, I viewed those training cycles where I came up short on my goal as a failure. But after a string of cycles where my end-goal was just out of my reach, I learned that I was robbing myself of happiness that should be there—regardless of what the finish line clock says.
Then I came across this quote:
“The summit is such a small piece of the mountain. Most of the beauty and wonders are experienced during the climb.” – MtEverest.net
Our “climb” as runners is about getting strong. It’s about hard work and dedication. It’s about those runs you wanted to quit but kept going.
So as our “climbing” seasons begin, remember this: It’s about staying consistent. Working hard. Aiming high but only reaching for what’s within your grasp. Keeping your head down and working hard but occasionally looking up to enjoy the view as you are climbing your way up. Staying the course even when you get bumped back a few steps.
And celebrating the climb—regardless of whether or not you reach the summit.