Gratitude

Updated: Apr 13

Just over five weeks ago, I signed up for a 50k ultramarathon that was supposed to take place this coming Saturday on March 21st. It was canceled for obvious purposes about a week ago. I'm 99.9% positive everyone reading this knows the reasoning behind the cancellation, but if you have been living under a rock in recent weeks it was due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.


Deep down, I knew this decision was the right call by the race directors, but it was still very upsetting and quite frankly put me in a little funk for a few days. I think everyone can relate to this statement: It really sucks getting an event canceled that you have been looking forward to for awhile.


I hate tooting my own horn, but I had really been training my ass off for this race. I was consistently putting in 50-60 mile weeks and spending extra time in the weight room to strengthen my legs for the ultra distance and increased elevation on the course which also played a major role in heightening my disappointment level.


Now this 50k was one rung on the ladder of my pursuit towards running a 50 miler this May so I continued to train this past week as if it was business as usual. Even though this race was part of another training block, my excitement level for the 50k was through the roof because ever since I started running I've always wanted to complete an ultramarathon.


Running for me is typically an escape from the daily stressors of life. I could be having a good day or a terrible day, but if I am running my problems seem to vanquish when I lace up my shoes. Whether it's a 20 minute jaunt around the block or a 20 mile long run, there's never a bad moment when I'm pounding pavement or exploring the trails. Actually scratch that...I don't always enjoy the 20 mile long runs, but in those painful moments I am still grateful to be outside doing something that I love.


After my run on Wednesday I was angry, emotional, and just upset. I was feeling sorry for myself and grieving the loss of my race. I thought March 21st was going to be my day to shine in my first ultramarathon, but it was taken from me and there was nothing I could do about it. A soon as I checked my phone when I got back from my run I started scrolling through twitter and I found this image circulating from multiple accounts.

I stared and examined and stared some more at the post and it led me to the realization of how foolish I was being. The Coronavirus Pandemic may have put a damper on my plans, but it did not stop my life from happening. I realized in that moment that I was just lucky to still have the ability to be outside doing an activity that I enjoy. The last line of that image really resonated with me.


I needed to embrace what I did still have in a difficult time for a lot of people in the world.


It's very easy to forget why you do something when you get wrapped up in the destination. I was solely focused on the race. I didn't consciously realize it throughout my runs the past five weeks, but at this instant on my twitter feed I knew that every step I took during that period became all about the final destination. Just focusing on the goal of completing an ultramarathon caused me to lose the gratitude that usually consumes me everyday when I get to lace up my running shoes. Because of this mindset, once I lost the destination I felt that my work the past five weeks had been for no purpose whatsoever, but this idea could not have been more incorrect.


I forgot how fortunate I was to have just been able to be outside running.


The destination is great. I'll admit it...I cried when I finally lost 100 pounds as well as when I crossed the finish line in my first marathon. These were major milestones for me and now I look back at them very fondly, but the truth is that when I examine those achievements I realize that the biggest joy I got from them was on the path throughout the process. The highs, lows, struggles, and triumphs I experienced throughout the journey made me into the person I am today.


The destination was just the icing on the cake and the celebration of all my hard work.


So in times of chaos for the world, this image reminded me to constantly have gratitude and hopefully it does the same for you. It's easy to forget how lucky we are in times where people all over the news are claiming that the world is ending. We have all been affected in our lives because of the Coronavirus, but we still have many things to be thankful for no matter how difficult the situation becomes in our world. I am just thankful to still be outside running. A canceled race isn't going to stop me from having gratitude. There will be other races just like there will be other parties, sporting events, dates, and movies when the Coronavirus ends.


Don't lose gratitude just because you lost an event. Instead, focus on what you do have and these dark days will start getting a little bit brighter.

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Tanner Kern is a 22 year content creator and endurance athlete from Connecticut. He is the host of The Tanner Kern Podcast and creator of "It's a Process: My Tips for Becoming the Best Version of Yourself."

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