I ran more in New Orleans than I have anywhere or anytime in my life. I was running two to four races on Saturdays and Sundays, plus the Wednesday afternoon Audubon Park run, plus an occasional Friday night run – plus all the training runs. These races were officially sponsored events (I belonged to two running clubs). I would run nearly every day after work on the levee with a couple of friends from work.
There was real camaraderie in these events. There were some people who I chose to hang out with because we shared some everyday experiences – military mostly, college, civilian jobs, travel, etc. Running at the same pace dictated a lot of who you saw most of the time. Some people enjoyed talking while running, and others did not. I had been running for years before moving to New Orleans but had never participated with this intensity before.
Friendship is a significant part of life. Someone to share your collective experiences with who will not be judgmental – someone to share your thoughts and dreams and plans and can get realistic feedback on what you want to do. Many of us maintain contact with former classmates, old neighborhood friends, old workmates, military and professional society friends. We do that because we share common bonds. We enjoy their friendship. With social media, it is overly simple to maintain contact.
What we don’t do most of the time is to choose those friends who will help us achieve our dreams. We typically hang out with people in our social strata – same salary, same job titles, same church, same this and that. We don’t have that millionaire mentor to help us step up the pace when we need to.
My favorite race in New Orleans was to run right after a summer shower. The steam was visible above the water puddles on the park trail. I wasn’t running to win; I was running to have fun (staying in my comfort zone). That’s the way most of us are – we live our lives to have fun. We enjoy the contentment and security of our comfort zones.
To win your age group or your weight group, you have to put out more effort and intense focus. I was running five or six days a week – I certainly had the stamina to run a faster race, but I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t have that goal to be better – a little, maybe, but not significantly better.
If it means giving up a television show or two tonight to meet with someone, we usually pass. Our relaxation after work is like my running for enjoyment – not to be better than I was. I didn’t have a mentor to tell me to develop a plan. Let’s run this month and focus on this aspect of running. Next, we’ll do this. Then, in that race in September, you can prove that this extra work has paid off.
I wish I had that mentor now, but I just didn’t see the value of it then. I believe that most people are that way. They don’t have friends who will pull them to the next level. They don’t have a mentor to help them develop a plan and stick with it. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to have a better lifestyle. You just have to earn it.
Mentors can be found in many places. The cheapest mentors are in books, CDs, and DVDs (find a mentor and buy his materials). Spend a few bucks (or go on the internet, or better yet go onto YouTube) and develop that area of your life that needs work.
As in the running, you have to do something. You can’t be a better runner just by reading about it. Find someone (or something) to help you get off the couch and begin your journey.