Be the Athlete You Were Made to Be

by Jeff Burtka

Get outside and follow your own athletic path.

On November 4, 2017, I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I vowed that I was done running marathons that day after a disappointing finish to an otherwise solid race. I took to Facebook and posted a eulogy for my marathoning “career.”

Even though I broke my vow and soon returned to marathon running, I still believe what I wrote about being an athlete. Whether you’re an avid runner, a walker, or someone just trying to get started with physical activity, you have more strength inside you than you realize.

Here’s what I wrote:

So I ran my fifth (and likely last) marathon today. I missed a Boston Marathon qualifying time by 15 seconds, but I am happy that I set a PR by 16 minutes. Since a marathon 14 months ago, I have improved by 56 minutes.

The point of this isn't to boast because I know I am nowhere near an elite runner. The point is that everyone is an athlete. We spend our lives cooped up indoors staring at screens all day. Get outside. Run. Bike. Walk. Hike. Do something. Set small goals...and eventually big ones if you choose. Be the athlete you were made to be. I was having health problems before I started exercising again, and it's amazing how some exercise helped my mental and physical health. 

Finally, I could not have done this without Allison [my wife]. She has traveled with me to 3 marathons in the last year and has run 2 half marathons with me. She has been a "running widow" on weekend mornings when I've been training and has put up with me waking up at 5 a.m. most weekday mornings. I appreciate it all...and now she gets to have me back for better or worse for a few weeks while I take a break from running.

Be the athlete you were made to be and remember to thank those who helped you along the way.