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11.17.2011

"money in the bank."

I remember so vividly cross country running seasons my junior and senior year of High School. Long runs, short runs, umpteen practices, sprinting, calisthenics, hill runs, stretching, warm ups, cool downs, pre race routine, team dinners, personal records, and team victories. I still can recall the race day nerves, the pressure, and finally the shotgun telling you to run your heart out. And I did run my heart out many, many times. Pushing myself to personal limits, but knowing that the pain would be temporary and worth it in the long run- literally.

Once a week we had a hill training day. Our coaches would run with us to the bottom of this insane hill about a half a mile from our high school and we'd run up and down it for what seemed like hours. And when our team got to our final couple repetitions, and we were exhausted, sweating, and felt as if our legs had 50 pound rocks tied to them, my coach would always say "This is money in the bank." And what he meant was that our hard work now, would essentially be "stored" away until race day, having done all those brutal workouts, would be what propelled us across that finish line in flying colors. And as much as we'd roll our eyes at him, I realized come race day how right the man was. As much as some of our practices seemed absurd and torturous, come race day we never regretted all that pain our coaches put us through. It was that pain that made us each better runners and an altogether stronger team.

I still remember those seasons like it was just yesterday. We'd leave the locker room and run to the bottom of that big old hill; and I'd look up to the top and know what the next hour had in store for me. I'd cringe and curse through the whole thing, but when it would end, I'd celebrate it like I had just survived a natural disaster.

My coach may have been referring to stocking up on solid training days when he said that we were putting money in the bank, but the saying reaches far beyond hills, 3.1 mile race day courses, and our running shoes. The concept of "saving" applies to all facets of life. We set goals and work hard now so that one day we can reap the benefits of our immense efforts. Whether it's at work, in the classroom, at the gym, in our relationships, or on the field, to truly be as successful as we are capable of, we will have to push ourselves. We will have to take the sometimes painful steps necessary to meet the end goal. And you can guarantee some of those steps are going to be the hardest ones you've ever taken. Yet it's taking each of those steps that will lead you to victory. So the next time you are about to skip a class, slack off at work, procrastinate, half-ass a workout, become complacent, lazy, or settle for 'average' in life, remember what my coach said. Work hard now and you will reap the benefits of doing so later. It may not be as crystal clear as how a training run will directly affect your performance on race day, but life has a way of rewarding us for our hard work in strange ways. It's called deferred gratification. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of patience, you will succeed in reaching all your dreams.

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