4 Ways Running is like Fishing
For each of the last two marathons I have run (yes, I have only ran two at this point – but it sounds decided better worded that way!), I have followed up my 26.2 mile effort by a few days of rest and relaxation in the Duluth area with my best friend and his family. It is a nice excuse to spend some time with my godchildren, and an even better excuse to make up for lost time on the thing that brought my friend and I together all of those years ago: fishing.
Fishing as a metaphor for…anything?
My mother works for a newspaper in the north woods of Wisconsin. One perk of her position is that I get a free subscription to the Sawyer County Record. A recent column espoused the similarities between fishing and looking for opportunities in your life. While the concepts in the article definitely got my brain churning, it went in a slightly different route than what the author intended.
In a past life, I wrote fishing-related articles for both print and online. More than once I dusted off the old “fishing as a metaphor for ___” tagline, and attempted to spin the comparisons in a new light. With a brief apology to those caught up in reading this unknowingly, I hope you will indulge me in one more such comparison (hopefully made meaningful to you because either you and I share the same two favorite hobbies- running and fishing – or because this article will help you apply your running pursuits to your significant others next wild fishing adventure).
Every time I grab my tackle box, winter or summer, I truly believe I am going to catch something. Without this (sometimes naive) optimism, there’s no point even starting the truck. I recognize there are times when I spend two hours staring at an unmoving bobber – just as truly as I know that there will be days where I will lace up my shoes and have an absolutely terrible run – but I start each cast with the expectation to catch something.
In the same way, each run has a purpose.
Not just in the “today I will do 6x1200m at 7:13 min/mi pace” purpose, but a purpose nonetheless. Some runs are targeted workouts, others are long runs with nothing more than a mileage goal… and some are just an excuse to step away from a problem in some other area of my life and try to re-frame it in the context of some sweat and occasional out of breath moments.
Each run begins with the initial purpose of getting out the door and using these two legs of mine. Some runs go as planned, others fall apart in a hurry, but I always go out with the intent to do my run.
You can’t Catch all the Fish
Despite my best positive thinking, I don’t always land the big one. Sometimes I don’t even land a small one. I can be doing everything right, exhausting each and every trick in the tackle box… and nothing.
Running can go the same way.
You can tweak your diet just so, follow a pre-race hydration plan to perfection, set your outfit out the night before… and your time is still 2 minutes slower than your last 5K.
While fishermen are the king of “the one that got away” stories, they still head back out. There might be times of self-reflection, there might be a change in tactics next time, but they go fishing again.
No matter what happened in your last race or your last run, we all benefit from equal doses of short term memory and eternal optimism – because there will be another run. Right?
Use the right bait
Sometimes things are out of your control (see the previous paragraph). But you also have to manage the pieces you can control. Someone taking their grandkid out to catch some sunnies off the end of the dock is likely not going to have much luck if they grab some 10 foot surf castings rods and some foot long muskie baits.
By that same token, as runners, we need to set ourselves up for success. Don’t ignore strength training. Think about what you eat and drink. Figure out a training plan and attack your audacious goals. Whatever you do, don’t just sit on the couch day after day complaining that you haven’t finished a marathon yet.
Celebrate the big ones
If there is anything fishermen are known for (besides stories about the big one they just missed), it’s the pile of pictures you have to look through about the one they did catch. Nothing is as celebrated as the last big walleye, or that muskie hanging on the wall, or the day they filled a 5 gallon bucket full of dinner plate-sized sunnies.
And yet, despite all of this celebrating, that same fisherman will be at it again tomorrow – and we would do well to mimic this same behavior. Celebrate your accomplishments, tell your stories, post your finish line photos all over Facebook… then cast your bait out again. Find your next race. Set a new time goal. Recruit your family in the fun. But whatever you do, keep right on running.
How about you?
What’s your next big catch? Let us know in the comments below, and we will gladly look at as many “big fish” pictures as you have to share!