I’ve been off work now since Christmas Eve afternoon, and have had some time to get caught up on some of my reading.  I recently read a book called This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women (never knew that there was a first volume!)


It’s a compilation of essays of 300-500 words, written by individuals just like you and me, as well as others, famous folks like Yo Yo Ma, teenagers, people from all over.  I never knew about this before but many of these essays are read on an NPR.  The essays are about each person’s core beliefs. You can write your own and send it into the This I Believe, Inc. website.

I was pretty inspired by reading through these (it’s another very quick read, trust me.)  I’ve since requested the first volume from my library network, and thought I’d post my own here, of course as it relates to running, amongst other things. I may write one as it more generally relates to my life and send it into the website, not sure yet. I guess it’d be my first step toward doing something with my writing.

I Believe in Optimism.

You may have noticed I have changed the tagline of my blog.  The old one was “not the fastest, or the slowest, and that’s ok.”  I realized that sounded like I was being lackadaiscal, and in a way, letting myself down.  I wanted to change that.

Think about how much optimism or the lack of it can affect your life. My mom always says that negative energy atracts negative energy, and the reverse applies as well. I see a fair amount of this at work, where we feel like research is not made a top priority for students, and thus sometimes wonder, why are we there every day?  I find that if I give into that feeling too much, then there’s no reason for me to go to work every day.  I think, “baby steps, that’s what we need to do, and sooner or later, it’ll have a positive effect.”  We can give into the negativity and be miserable, or we can decide to accept it and move on. Not everyone agrees with me, of course, but I can’t let myself get too bogged down in that.

Think of how optimism and running affects you.  We all know that a lot of running is mental. If you think you can do something, you can.  You can tell yourself you can get through one more minute, or one more mile of running.  You can tell yourself it won’t hurt you to run in what you formerly thought was really uncomfortable weather, be it hot or cold.  I’ve now run in 90+ weather, and in temps below zero, now thinking that to run in 35-55 degrees is practically balmy! 🙂

You can tell yourself you can raise money for a charity and achieve your goals. I never thought I could raise $2100 this past year, and I raised over $2700, by being optimistic about my ability to ask others for money. I never thought I could run more than 6 miles, and I ran 26.2.   I just kept working at it every week and reminding myself I could do it, if I put my mind to it.

This year, I believe that optimism will help me to get up at 4:30 in the dark mornings when I’d otherwise rather sleep, knowing I can see both the moon and the sunrise on my runs.  Optimism will help me achieve my goals of running a 5K in 25-26 minutes.  Optimism will help me run a 10K, in 55-57 minutes.  Optimism will help me run a 1/2 marathon in 2:13 or under, in May. Optimism will help me excel at my indoor track workouts.  And optimism will allow me to cross the finish line at races with a smile on my face (as Donna, one of The Ladies, told me she does every time she races.)  Optimism will remind that after every bad run I might have, there is a good one just lurking out there somewhere to remind me why I run.

Optimism is what helps folks like Terry Fox from Canada to have raised so much money and awareness for cancer, back in the early 1980s, when he ran across so many thousands of miles. (Thanks to Dan, the Oz Runner, for being the first to tell me about him.)  Optimism helps Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong Foundation to raise so much money for cancer causes, while also sponsoring so many races. Optimism helped a Runner Girl named Anne Mahlum, in Philadelphia, form a running organization for homeless men and women, who’d go on to run half-marathons! (See this month’s edition of Runner’s World; it’s a great story.)  Optimism helped my friend, Corey Canada, raise so much money for the Miles for Miracles charity last spring when he ran the Boston Marathon, and will be a big force behind his doing a repeat, even helping him to get through his injuries.

Finally, optimism will help me to continue finding and connecting with other runners out there in blog land, who love running just as much, if not more, than I do.  Anytime I’ve been down, you’ve always helped to pick me back up. Thank you.

And now, to take a line from Willie, I’ll end this by saying, “thanks for listening.”