Setbacks occur. It is how we deal with those setbacks which define us.

I have two friends who had a common goal this year. Neither knew the other but both were planning on running a marathon a month for the entire year. Both were running stellar times.  Both, unfortunately, suffer freak injuries and had to shelf their plans for the year.

Almost immediately after their injuries, both received “I told you so!”- type comments hidden behind masks of concern and well-wishes. These comments irked me more than I think they irked them, mostly because I tire greatly of those who sit on the couch and try to disparage those out there doing things. However, both of my friends (one who suffered a stress fracture in her femur, the other who broke a metatarsal bone in her foot) handled not only the comments but the injuries with great aplomb. As one just now begins the beginning running process and the other just got her snazzy new boot to lug around, their good spirits remind me of how we can handle what life gives us.

Now, I do not subscribe to the feeling that your attitude can change things which are beyond your control. No good attitude was going to stop either of those injuries from occurring (and yes, either injury could have happened even without their running goals for the year.) However, a good attitude will help you deal with both the unchangeable and how you move forward from it. I will admit I can often internalize certain slights and setbacks that occur to me.  However, I have gotten much better with my own attitude. When you realize you cannot change the opinions and attitudes of others, that your own outlook on life can be shaped by events and people around you but is ultimately made by what you decide to do with those extrinsic influences, you have mastered a skill few others have.

Both of my friends running goals came to an end prematurely. Given how much they desired to do well and how well they were doing, I would not have been shocked if they threw some papers around and pouted for a bit. But neither did, even when the sobering news of how long they would be of the running circuit. Faced with things beyond their control, they controlled what they could.

Besides being a great metaphor for life it is a wonderful one for racing. This past weekend I was hoping to win a race for my mom for Mother’s Day. However, the energy to run fast enough to win was just not there. It was also windy as heck. So, I rolled with the punches and took third overall. My Mom was just as pleased with her “present” and I did not let my “sub-par” day get me down.