“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
We all know the saying and have probably heard it so many times that it has lost just about all measure of impact. That’s what clichés are, after all.
But I offer another twist.
We all have at least two forces working in us. One force drives us forward. We can call it fight, or pride, guts, determination, stubbornness, or whatever else you want to call it. It’s the thing in us that makes us get up at 5:00am (or earlier), throw off the warm sheets and slide into the cold running kit to go pound asphalt for 60 minutes every morning. It’s the thing that pushes us on in 200 degree heat with 100% humidity and mosquitoes the size of chickens swarming about.
But there’s another force working in us. This force drives us back. It’s what makes us hit that alarm button just one more time until it’s too late to run. It’s the force that tells us it’s too hot, or too cold, or we’re too tired. Or when our lungs are burning, but the legs are churning, we just decide it’s too much. Call it what you want—doubt, uncertainty, “the wall”, fear, complacency—but I’ll call it my quit.
I drag my quit around on several of my runs, and I know damn well it’s back there. Or, maybe I’m not dragging it around so much as it’s stalking me, waiting for me to falter, waiting for me to take the next step at a slightly slower cadence so that it can catch up to me, climb on my back, and whisper in my ear the words I hate to hear: you’re kidding yourself, you’re not good enough, there’s no way you will accomplish this, you can’t make it, just stop now, stop torturing yourself, what are you trying to prove, who do you think you are, you’re too small for this, you’re too fat, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re such a disappointment, you might as well cut your losses now, you don’t want to feel that pain again… just quit.
Right now I know my quit is a better runner than I am. I know this to be true because I hear it whispering to me when I run and that insidious whisper drowns out the personal trainer soundtrack and the envelope of complete silence that surrounds me during the most blissful miles.
There will come a point, and I know this to be true as well, when my quit will falter and I’ll be able to look back over my shoulder and see it there, gasping on the side of the path, calling out for ME to wait up. I don’t know when this point will come, but I know it WILL come.
Because it’s not about the dog in this fight, nor the fight in this dog. It’s about the quit… and breaking the quit… and leaving it broken on the side of the road begging for a ride home.