I went for a short, slow run on Mother’s Day – my first in two weeks after a nasty sprained ankle and four days on crutches. I saw four other moms out with their little ones and cheerfully greeted each of them, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
One of them was running along as her little guy peddled up ahead and then circled back to keep pace – she was clearly new to running and moving steadily along at about a 12:00/mile pace. I wanted to give her a high five and tell her that she was doing amazingly well, to stick with it, and that I – a complete stranger – was proud of her. Now, not everyone is from Iowa, so not everyone appreciate this, so I just wished her a Happy Mother’s Day and gave her a big smile.
But it really made me think: those who care the most about our running – our families and friends – don’t mind at all if you run fast or slow, one mile or ten, and how you look when you’re doing it. Neither do those complete strangers who cheer you on at a race or those who tell you how great you look at mile 10 of a half-marathon. It’s what makes our running community great: there are so many people who don’t know you, but who want to see you do well.
“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” This is something a friend of mine posted on social media a while ago and it changed my life. I stopped caring what other people thought of me, unless it was someone that truly mattered to me. And I stopped trying to please someone simply because they don’t agree with me. But there’s one exception: when another runner – one I don’t know – cheers me on at a race or tells me “looking good” when they pass me on the trail.
That’s not to say your “those who matter” don’t want to see you run faster, stronger, farther. They do, if those are your goals – but they will not care about you any more for those seconds you cut each mile, how quickly you can bound up a hill, or the number of miles you run in a week.
“Those who matter” love you, no matter what. So forget calling yourself “slow” or “fat” or “old.” Call yourself loved.