We all pick up little tidbits of advice along the way. Probably one of the best and most honest pieces I have ever heard was while I was in marathon. I passed a lady who looked distraught. She was obviously struggling to make it through. What I assumed to be a friend of her’s was a few paces ahead. I say that I assume she was a friend due to the bluntness of her advice, because we tend to be more frank with someone we have ran and trained next to for hundreds of miles.
We tend to build up our shared experiences through the hardships of training, causing us to be more open and honest with each other. Like the Band of Brothers, we gain shared struggles, we’ve battled a common threat together. When one’s weakness is apparent, the others will step up and help overcome and as a group the challenge is conquered. It’s through these shared tragedies, victories and just plain everyday drudgery that a bond begins to form.
Before you know it, you’re sitting around telling “war stories” about this race or that training run or how you helped each other. Much like the church scene in “Saving Private Ryan” where Captain Miller and Sergeant Horvath are discussing the battles of the past and soldiers they have lost. You shed tears and laugh together.
You’re building a story with these people so you tend to get very honest. So honest, that to the casual listener, you sound brutal. When you are on the receiving end, you know that it is not personal. They are just pushing you to be your absolute best. You know someday the tables might turn. Who else can you be so vividly honest with? There are not many people who you can do this with.
My two temporary running partners had obviously put in some miles together. The lady in front turned around and said “Well, some days are sugar and some are shit. Today ain’t really sugar for you.”
The advice, while blunt and somewhat comical, has a layer of truth to it. Many days since then I have thought back to that advice I heard on the course. Not all of your days can be sugar and when they aren’t, just roll with it and hope for some of that sugar in the future.
I wish I knew how they did that day. I didn’t get their bib numbers or remember their faces by the time I finished. Wherever they came in that day, I bet they are telling their war story and laughing about that day, having learned and moved on.