2013, A Year of No Excuses, by Justin Lagat, note by Larry Eder

Justin Lagat picture, courtesy of Justin Lagat

This is Justin Lagat's first column for the Running Network for 2013. Justin is training and writes for us about running in Kenya. This column is one that many of us will relate to, how to make 2013 better than 2012? 
As I did my morning run yesterday, on the first day of this year, I only came across three other athletes on the trails here in Eldoret, which is by far a very small number compared to those I would meet on any other typical day. The date seemed to have given many a reason to opt out, but to me, I did not want to let the date be an excuse to miss out on my training. Had I done that, definitely it would have meant I would be having many other lame excuses to be missing my training throughout the year.
Today, on the 2nd of January 2013, as I set out on my morning run at 6:20am, I was on the lookout to see the percentage increase in the number of the athletes that would be on the road from yesterday. The training around here in Eldoret just began on a very high note for some athletes. I myself was caught in the surprise because I was expecting everything to begin slowly then to pick up after some time, but it was just the second day of the year and the training pace ended up being higher than I had anticipated! I ran past the usual starting point where I usually met with my training group and found no one there. But less than five minutes on the road, I met three athletes running towards me from the opposite direction. They looked strangers to me and I could not tell from which group they belonged, which is not strange here in Eldoret where there are so many athletes from so many groups. Further ahead, I caught up with another group of three athletes doing an easy run. I could only recognize one of them who would usually join our group two times every week; Tuesdays and Thursdays when we would be doing our speed workouts. Shortly after exchanging greetings and running past them, I saw a bigger group of slightly over ten in number running towards me from the opposite direction. I had taken some time without glancing over my shoulder and as I neared this group, I could not help noticing that there were more shoes stumping on the ground that I was seeing. I glanced back and saw another big group gaining on me from behind. I quickly moved to the left side of the road to let the oncoming group pass, then to the left to let the group behind me pass as well.
I was doing a moderate run, but when the group from behind passed by me, I remembered my training strategy for this year: To hang on, no matter what the pace was. So, I decided to begin practicing the resolution, by joining the group. After all, it was already 2013, no more excuses to drop out from any pace, however hard it becomes! In general, I resolved this year shall remain a year where I shall not have any excuses not to achieve the best I can with my running. To my liking, the pace was increased a bit where some began to drop one by one from the pack and I hung on till I branched out to a route I had charted for my run. My watch was reading 24 minutes. I still had an approximate of 36 more minutes to run alone and I had to slow down a bit in order to achieve that because I was already one minute faster on my schedule.
The rest of the distance, I was so engrossed on my thoughts about my plans for the year that I even forgot that I was running. I started contemplating about a choice I would make if pain and comfort were human beings and I was asked to choose one as my training mate for this year. Thinking critically, even engaging the scriptures for inspiration, I settled for pain. It always pays in the end. According to the bible, in Mathew 24 vs 13, Jesus himself assured his followers that whoever endured to the end shall be saved. I thought about that and decided it would be my favorite verse for this year.
I caught up with a friend who I used to train together with in Iten early in 2011 and he brought me back out of my thoughts as I came towards the last bend to finish my morning run. We ran the last few minutes together as we chatted. He is temporarily in Eldoret and will be going to Iten soon.
The number of athletes I met on this second day of my training was 34. That is more than a 1000% increase from the first day. Most of them seemed to be in the best shape that left me wondering whether they really took a break during the festive season, or were on their training as usual. As a matter of fact, I was on the road throughout the festive season myself and there wasn't a day in which I never met some athletes training, only that they were mostly doing so individually or in twos.
 I look forward to a tougher training beginning next week with my training mates who, I am sure, are now training hard wherever they are, hoping to surprise others when they join their groups. I do not know what this year holds for me, but I am holding determination, perseverance and discipline to exchange for whatever it will give me. I will not be making any more excuses not to maintain a rigorous training regimen, and it seems that my running mates and competitors have made the same resolution, so the coming year for running promises to be an exciting one for all.

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