If Only I had…

1983 Marine Corps Marathon

What kind of runner will you be?

That is a question I often ask myself and then get stuck on wondering if only I had done things differently, would I have been a different runner?

All too often we get caught up in the dreams, fantasies, or even a few questionable memories that we keep in our heads from our pasts, that the present loses its luster. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of runner you were or the level you ran at. We all still have choices still to be made.

Ahhh, but the “if only I had…” affects us all, as we look back at what might have been — in and out of running. Since this is more about running that is where I will keep my focus.

If only I had…

  • trained better or at least differently
  • chose to run different distances
  • found a coach
  • lived someplace else
  • chose a different profession
  • chose a different lifestyle
  • found different friends
  • not partied so much
  • not gotten injured
  • not given up

And all those other things that we think about when we go down the “if only I had…” rabbit holes from our pasts.

When we go deep down into those “if only I had…” thoughts, it takes away the focus on where we are now or what could be. Getting lost in the past is something we all do at times, and even with 20/20 hindsight, dwelling on the “if only I had…” whatever it was serves little purpose now.

There were reasons that we didn’t do things differently at the time. Reasons we either don’t remember or don’t want to admit even to ourselves. 

Looking back, for me at least, with my running, it was a lack of confidence in my abilities or that I would have had to make changes in my life that were too painful or scary to do at that time.

No one can change the past — what is done – is done.

It is time to move forward and let go of what we did or didn’t do. To become the best that we can be now and in the future.

More importantly, we do have the opportunity to achieve new goals or finish old ones, maybe even do things that maybe once upon a time we didn’t think would ever be possible. 

Instead of “If only I had…”, we need to start to focus on “What can I do…” or “how will I do…”

To answer that initial question, what kind of runner will I be?

I am a recreational runner in my sixties, who doesn’t have to run, but still gets to run. Yes, I am serious about my running (too serious sometimes), but also have learned that I run because I love running and it is a part of who I have become. At the same time, I have to let go of the “if only” thinking — it serves me no purpose at this point in my life. 

Honestly, I am at a crossroads in my running and can take either of two directions. 

  • I can do the work to achieve my dream of a Boston Marathon Qualifying time and then running Boston. While running more competitively in my age in other races


  • Just run for the absolute joy of running and not worry about racing, being fast enough, and all the other things that go along with being a bit more competitive about my running.

Both have their appeal, but for now, it is time to do the work and see if the body can hold up to marathon training for a Spring 2022 attempt. If the body cannot manage the training required, then it will be time to re-evaluate the direction my running will take.

Also, let’s face it, running is not how I pay the bills and while it is an important part of my life, my life does not revolve around my running — as much as it might seem like some days. It is a part of my life that I get to enjoy, but it is only a part of the life I have now.

Running is one of my passions and hopefully will for a long time into the future, but if I had to stop running tomorrow, I would miss it. However, I would continue to be me.

However, my running days are not over and I am focusing on asking myself, “What can I still do…” and “how will I do…” Those are the stories that I plan to share with you going forward — the things I am doing.

  • How about you, what kind of runner are you?
  • What can you still do or achieve as a runner, and how will you do it? 

 …and in 10 years don’t say — “if only I had…” 

Instead, why not look back, smile, and say: “I did it, no more fear, no regrets, just racing the wind and a smile on my face, doing what I love.”

What kind of runner will you be?

Come with me now — the best is yet to be.

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