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I Won't Win the Race

Do you have a hobby that you love but aren’t super good at? I do: running.

I started running in middle school. I don’t really remember why, other than that my dad suggested I join the cross country team. I would run half a mile a few times a week, then a mile, then the 2.34 mile loop around our neighborhood. I grew to love it, and joined the cross country team as a junior in high school. I’m from a small town where I could be in sports even though I wasn’t very good. I loved running with that team.

In college I trained for and completed two marathons. I ran most days, and still do. But I’m not good at it. I’m slow. I’ve always been a slow runner. I will never win a race unless I’m racing Bart, our pet tortoise. For years I logged my times and miles and thought about what I could do to get faster, but finally I realized I just don’t care that much. I’m not running because I’m good at it, and as long as I’m lacing up my shoes and hitting the road, who cares how far I run or how long it takes?

I’ve wondered for a while if I’m the only one who is bad at a favorite hobby, but recently I’ve stumbled across some things that make me think I’m not alone. I skimmed an article about a surfer who can’t surf well. “Interesting,” I thought, “Like my running.” Then the same article was discussed on one of my favorite podcasts, Happier in Hollywood. Then I read a post on Modern Mrs. Darcy about paddle boarding, and sticking with something that you assume you’re not great at. It’s clear it’s just fine to be bad at something but still love doing it.

I’ve never really thought of giving up running. I enjoy the alone time, I enjoy how running makes me feel, and I enjoy having an activity I can do outside even in the dead of winter. I love the community of running (runners are typically happy people), the fact that you can do it anywhere, and that you don’t need any fancy equipment. I’ll never win a race, but I’ll never quit running either.

I always feel extra thankful for my running habit this time of year. I love fall, and for whatever reason running past the colorful trees gives me a huge happiness boost. I’m also the type of person who will go out of my way to step on an extra crunchy looking leaf. Why is that crunch so satisfying?

Lately my dog, Harvey, has been joining me for my afternoon runs. I know I’m not a star runner, but he doesn’t. When he hears me say “let’s go for a run” he jumps for joy. He smiles proudly with his tongue flapping in the wind the whole time we’re out, and he’s generous with the puppy kisses when we get home. I’m glad to have a buddy to share in my slow jogging joy.

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If you have something you love, stick with it. There are many areas of life where you need to make progress and advance. Choose one thing you love that you might not be great at, and let the fact that it makes you happy be a good enough reason to devote time to it. I’ll be last at the finish line, but I’ll be so happy to have been running, and that’s good enough for me.

Questions: Do you have a hobby that you love but aren’t super good at? Do you lose interest in something if you don’t see progress?

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