Thomas Merton quoted from The Seven Storey Mountain, speaking of the brain tumor his Father was dying from and how while it physically affected him yet did not take his faith but expanded it wrote: “Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity.” There is a load of practical application in that quote but to stay within our running theme we can look at one of those $3.00 words that show up the framed motivation hung on the walls of middle level manager’s offices all across the country – Perseverance. According to Dictionary.com perseverance is defined as:
1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
2. in Theology: continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
Now as we learned in the old Schoolhouse Rock clips “a noun is a person, place or thing” but somewhere along the line I guess I felt perseverance was more of a verb which is, of course, an action word. It seems my ideal of what is correct was not based on the basic rules of grammar but my misunderstanding what the very nature of perseverance is. Its nature is a state, meaning a person is “in” it, immersed so to speak. With the intense heat the Louisville area and much of the Mid-West has endured the past couple of months this summer has indeed been one of perseverance for runners in particular. Continuing in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement has been the norm and not the deviation from standard expectations. Baptist pastors can be quite fond of saying that “Your want to has to change”, meaning that in order for growth to happen in a person’s Christian walk the very thing that motivates much change; well I submit that when 100+ heat indexes arrive day after day your running “want to” has to change as well. Now change can be accomplished many ways and being creative is important. Get out early, or late, move indoors to the treadmill, elliptical or even that poor Wii board that you slid over to the corner of the family room after the kids lost interest…the little Me you created is still waiting for you come back and check in. Whatever, just stick with it, mix it up, work through it, you know all the cliches and short of the old “Just Do It” that echoes back to Nike’s Oregon and Steve Prefontaine, it’s all we runners have. Consider the heat to be another opponent worthy of challenging so we can learn our true limits and be rewarded with a solid fall running season where a new PR in your scheduled race can be the prize instead of rebuilding that mileage base after a summer of giving in to the heat. Perseverance is a noun, be “in” it!