Don’t let the pursuit of perfection be the enemy of good
Annette Funiccello, the 1960s film actress, once said: Life does not need to be perfect to be wonderful.
That philosophy, which can also apply to any individual endeavor we undertake, came to my mind twice last year.
In October 2017 I was pushing towards the finish line of the 55km (34 mile) Flagstaff Sky Race, which goes to the top of the 11,500 foot Agassiz ski lift. I was having a truly wonderful time. The weather was perfect, and I literally ran into many of my best trail-running friends.
Then about half way into the race, my right hamstring let me know it wasn’t having such a wonderful day by tightening up. That slowed me down somewhat; however, I did not mind. The light was perfect for taking pictures, so it gave me more photo ops with friends and the scenery.
But as I continued to run, I started contemplating dropping out of the race. About an hour later, at the very last aid station, a mere mile from the race’s end, I decided to quit the race. My pace had been good, and I still had hours until the cut-off time, so the organizers—probably thinking I’d temporarily lost my mind—encouraged me to rest a while, then finish.
I declined. I felt pushing that tight hamstring could lead to the muscle snapping at me and creating a chronic condition.
I had run literally thousands of miles during training over the years and thousands more in races. And in all that time, this was my first DNF (did not finish). Honestly, it felt very bizarre.
Then about a month later, I had the second DNF of my running life. I was running the mountains in circles within the Javelina Jundred 100km/100 mile endurance run. Again, my hamstring seized up, and I stopped before the very last loop of the race. Considering I had thirteen hours to finish the race at that point, I could have rested, stretched, and just walked the rest of the distance. This time, the decision did not feel strange. It felt like the wise thing to do.
Despite stopping, despite the races perhaps not being perfect as far as finishing, these two races were the highlight and my absolute favorites of the whole racing year. And in both I achieved my goals because I completed the tough training and preparation necessary for these challenging races. And, most importantly, I had a total blast.
I think sometimes people don’t take on tough races of out fear they won’t be able to finish or others will judge them for a DNF. Or we don’t want to try if the outcome might be less than perfect. A DNF might mean you didn’t finish, but it also means you started.
Any experience does not need to be “perfect” to be perfectly good!
Magdalena Romanska is the owner of the Be Fit Fit Personal Training Studio (www.befitfit.biz). Visit her “Be Fit Fit” blog at www.verdenews.com.