40 Reasons I’m Not a Professional Runner


Something you don’t know about me: In a previous life I was a pretty serious runner. Competing and training consumed me the way blogging does now. But, at some point in my life I had to give it up and put my energy elsewhere. There are lots of reasons why I am not a professional runner today. Here are a few:

  1. I have a bad knee
  2. My feet hurt too badly after I run
  3. My ankle never healed correctly when I shattered it falling down a hill
  4. My coach gave up on me
  5. The new girls below me stole my thunder
  6. The team didn’t like me
  7. I was overlooked for major competitions
  8. I worked too hard
  9. I wanted to spend more time with my friends
  10. I knew I’d never make the Olympics anyway
  11. I needed to focus on my schoolwork
  12. I didn’t have time to train
  13. It was too cold to run in the mornings
  14. I was too tired at the end of my day
  15. Running on snow and ice is dangerous
  16. My coach didn’t understand how to train me
  17. The trainers couldn’t tape my ankles tight enough
  18. I was tired of going through physical therapy
  19. It was taking over my life
  20. The program I was in wasn’t good enough
  21. No one listened to me
  22. I hated being the anchor of the relay
  23. There was too much travel
  24. The team was too big
  25. The team was too small
  26. Other people were built for it better than I was
  27. I couldn’t drop down to 110 like I needed to
  28. It was too hard to build muscle
  29. Politics
  30. Running in front of lights scared me
  31. Banked tracks scared me
  32. I wanted to run the 800, but they needed me on the 400
  33. Others had more experience
  34. Other girls had stronger names
  35. I was splitting my time between track and soccer
  36. My teammates thought I was washed up
  37. I wasn’t allowed to alter my workouts for my body
  38. My body rejected it
  39. I didn’t have time for anything else
  40. Other people ruined it for me

Or maybe I’m the reason.

Amber Naslund hit the nail on the head yesterday with her post It’s not them. It’s you. The difference between people who do and those that don’t are the lengths they’re willing to go to achieve their goal and to push themselves. It’s about committing to losing the excuses and to keep moving forward even though you know sometimes you’re going to fail. On the track they teach you never to look behind you. Because when you do, you immediately break your stride. You lose your focus and switch your attention to something completely outside your control. And then you psych yourself out.

Is that person gaining on you? Is their stride stronger than yours? Should you match their movements? Watch their breathing. Are they as tired? Shit. I’m done.

Pretty soon you’re running their race instead of yours. Your stride is what makes you unique. It’s something you develop and what carries you through. When you copy someone else’s blogging style because “it’s made them famous”, you’re copying their stride. When you design your smart phone to look like everyone else’s, you’re copying their stride. When you set yourself up to offer the exact same services as your competitor, you’re copying their stride. That’s not how races are won.

Screw trying to mimic everyone else’s stride and run your race your way, even if it means sometimes you’ll drop the baton at some point. Sometimes you need to in order to rework things and make yourself stronger. That’s how you turn pro. You focus on your race, you better your race and you run like you’re the only one on the track. Because then the only person you’re competing with is yourself.

Your Comments

  • Gil Reich

    Great post. Duct Tape Marketing recently had a good post Stop trying to be better than the competition that discussed a similar point. BTW, you really have 2 posts in here. If you break it at “On the track they teach you never to look behind you” you can add an intro sentence and make it a whole new post for tomorrow. It’s early on MLK day, you can still get away with it. That really breaks it as 2 great & separate posts, one themed “it’s not them, it’s you”, the other themed “don’t look back.” Sorry, I’ll let you do your job now. Just so much good writing, I’d use half of it to get a day off.

    • Lisa Barone

      Haha, I appreciate the effort in helping me increase blog productivity by breaking up the posts. I think you’re on to something there. :)

      And thanks for the Duct Tape post. I had missed that one!

  • Nathan Schubert

    Well, lack of confidence sure does breed failure, doesn’t it? This can be a pretty cut-throat industry, like any other, and if we spend our time trying to do what others have already done, then all we’re going to do is fall into the steps they’ve already taken. That doesn’t put you across the finish line but it will at least get you in the game.

    I think the biggest discouragement to success in this field next to your competition is yourself. Like you said, Lisa, as soon as you psych yourself out, you may as well pack it up and find a less interesting gig. I drop the baton so often that it’s easy to get down on myself. And I would, if I really cared. All I can do is pick it back up, try to figure out what I did to derail myself, then get back on the track and modify my own stride.

  • Lisa Barone

    Well, said. The lack of confidence thing definitely trips people up. I know it’s made me walk more softly than I should. And you can’t be in business that way. You’re going to drop the baton. That has to be okay. If you’re too afraid to drop it, you never learn how to properly hand off and you get stuck.

  • Syzlak

    “34 Other girls had stronger names”

    Lisa doesn’t necessarily strike fear in my heart, but unless their names were Ballcrusher, Gretta, Amber the Eradicator, or Lizzy, I don’t really think you can use this one.

  • Hal Brown

    Talk about a lead in – I was ready to say I only needed one reason. Well said, run your own race. I may never be a superstar, but I sure as hell did it my way. And other clichés about stepping to the beat of your own drum.

  • Vivian

    Awesome post! I can completely relate to the running analogy and the message. It’s so important to find your stride and not get caught up and imitate what other people are doing, and I think we all forget that sometimes.

  • Nathan Hangen

    I love it…that’s a long list!

    Although you could have been a pro, I’m betting being a pro in this realm is more time efficient and personally rewarding. I faced the same thing when I slowed down triathlon training for blogging and business building. It’s all about the opportunity costs.

  • Nick Gowdy

    I gave up running for all the same reasons, especially #27.

    Seriously, I dig the track analogy, but I can’t help but think it’s a double-edged sword for your argument.

    In training on the track alone or in a small group, my times were always a little slower than what I’d put up in a meet. Why? Because during a real race I had the benefit of drafting off my competition, using their slipstream against them, on their heels until the last 200-250m and then kicking outside with a reserve of energy they usually didn’t have left. My focus was on them the entire time, that *was* my race, pushing them and controlling the pace in my favor.

    I see a lot of parallels between that and a common tactic for being successful in any competitive space: keeping pace, not exerting yourself, letting someone else do some or all of the heavy lifting, learning or capitalizing on their successes and mistakes, then allocating your resources for calculated risks that uniquely build on what has already been done. And then to watch as they turn around and do it right back. I thrive in that chess match, the constant entropic slipping of me and my competitors becoming more homogenized until it lights a fire under our respective asses to innovate, to break free.

    I guess my biggest problem with tunneling in and working to improve without looking too far outside yourself is that I feel that opens you to a greater risk of repeating a mistake someone already made or being the only one to miss a wide-open opportunity. I’d rather know as much as possible of the complete picture, and if doing so causes me to lose focus or psychs me out, that’s what I’d work on fixing.

  • visitor

    Thanks Lisa…I feel more crappier than my usual day now :P

    But the truth is just that…it’s always you…we make choices to buy into idiotic executive complexes…one-man/woman’s-greed…

    Back to work…

  • Shannon Paul

    I really like this post, Lisa. I used to be a pretty serious musician. I started playing the piano when I was 4 (and was rather competitive). I chose to give it up in my early 20s and rarely look back. I’m glad I had the experience because I think developing that kind of discipline helped make me who I am, but it was time to move onto other things.

    This is a tough thing to remember all the time – there’s a lot of pressure to be like everyone else – even now as an adult. I know I get off track (pardon the pun) every now and then, but always appreciate posts like this that serve as a reminder for me to stick with my own stride, voice, etc. and make it as perfect as possible.

  • James

    wow all you do is make excuses
    that’s why your not a real runner and you never were

  • Adam

    Great post Lisa!

    The analogy does ring true, but no matter what you can always use other people’s successes and failures as guideposts for your own style. You start off seeing what worked and what doesn’t and find your own way. But you’re right; if you ever want to be a stand out amongst the millions you have to find your own style.