It was pretty symbolic for me to be back in the pages of Runner's World magazine a year ago this month with the article "Slay your setbacks." September is a time of transitions, especially in my beloved New England, where I lived for many years. This is the time of year when leaves begin to turn, when the air is clearer and colder, and when students of all ages walk into a classroom for the first time to learn something new.
"Slay your setbacks" was inspired by the work of psychologist Carol Dweck, who popularized the phrase "growth mindset." In her work with children, she saw how encouragement—in the form of a "not yet" grade instead of a failing grade—led students to understand that they were, in Dweck's words, "on a learning curve." The power of that one word--yet—is remarkable. It can move students who are struggling to rethink the challenge in front of them. It is effort and difficulty, Dweck says in her lovely and moving TED talk, that creates new connections in the brain. It is literally the struggle that helps us learn. There is no easy way out. The way out is by figuring it out, trying new things, playing with ideas, until a moment of clarity arrives.
Athlete. There it was, courtesy of my web designer, parked right under my professional byline in the first draft of her design for the site you are reading right now. My reaction? I can’t say that. I don’t win anything.
I am a member of the group that’s affectionately called in the running world the “midpackers.” (Unless you’re an Olympian, that’s basically all of us, truth be told.) I was a plodder for a good long time, trying to stay at least a little active through college and my twenties. Then at some point I more or less stopped running completely as I got heavier and heavier due to all kinds of work and life stress in my mid-thirties. Running just wasn’t fun anymore.