Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peak Performance

We all have dreams, and most of us work hard towards realizing those dreams. But the path from dream to ‘realized dream’ is never an easy one. There are always several hurdles to be cleared, distractions to be ignored, and miles to be tread alone. And if these were not enough, occasionally there may be setbacks in life that can put you far behind in your pursuit. One of the reasons, I chose long-distance running as my sport is because it imitates life in the way we pursue goals. In real life, you rarely ever achieve a worthwhile goal by sprinting to it. If a goal is worthwhile, then the journey to it is usually long, tedious, and fraught with (temporary) setbacks.

I am running a full marathon on trails this weekend, and I know it will test me in ways I have never been before. Apart from the fact that it will be my first trail marathon, my biggest challenge would be to finish the distance of 26.2 miles on legs that have had several injuries lately. My major injury has been in—what they call is—the IT Band (short for Illiotibial Band). The injury causes severe pain in the knees while running. The pain got so severe during some training runs that I had to cut them short. So, in consultation with a doctor, I completely stopped running during the last couple of weeks, and have been performing some exercises to strengthen my weaker parts of the leg.

So, am I ready now to run the upcoming marathon? It is difficult to give a straight forward answer to this question, because I have been resting and haven’t had the opportunity to try my limits. But what I know for sure is that I will go much beyond the limits of my body. Many people race against other competitors. But my only opponent in every race (and my life) is myself. Occasionally, while competing with myself, I win a medal in my age group, but I always compete with myself. In a race, I always target to better my previous time, and when I succeed I get immense satisfaction. I have been very fortunate to get this satisfaction in my recent races. But given my current circumstance, for the marathon this weekend, my goal is to just cross the finish line in the best possible time, I can. “To be the best I can be under a given circumstance,” is my definition of peak performance. And a peak performer, I will be—I promise that.

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