Running From Rejection

I battle rejection constantly.

In the corner of the CME world that I now inhabit, I deal with rejection on an everyday basis. Whether it’s through my role as an independent CME consultant trying to act as my own VP of Business Development, or through my role as the grants manager for a large academic center, I face an endless supply of “Thanks, but no thanks”.

In an environment where the industry standard “win-rate” (sorry- I hate that term. Would “acceptance-rate” be any better?) is generally accepted as less than 50% (and I daresay it’s much lower for many organizations), rejection is a common occurrence.

Maybe that’s a little harsh with regards to my consulting work. There’s less direct rejection involved, but lots of waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for replies to questions, waiting to get started on a project, waiting for someone to sign-off on a contract, waiting to hear if a proposal was approved, waiting for a check to be sent…waiting.

Which is why I’ve started running.

No, that’s not right. It’s why I  continue running. I started running because I was looking for a simple and easy way to get some exercise outside. I randomly came across a review of the “Couch-to-5K” iPhone app, liked the “walk/run” interval program, bought a pair of running shoes, and got started.

That was 10 weeks ago. Before “Day 1, Session 1” of the app, the last time I had “gone for a run” was – oh…I can’t remember. High school, maybe? I always hated any kind of distance running. Loved sports; despised running. My gut feeling was that there was no way I was going to make it through the 8-week program.

Today, I ran 5 1/2 miles. I have not missed a single day of training since I started the program (3 days of running a week). I have missed 5 total minutes of running time and that was only because I pulled a hamstring 5 minutes from the end of my run (It may have been a really bad cramp, I’m not sure). Two days later I was back out and ran 3 miles for the first time in my entire life. Two days ago I stupidly tried to pick up my 8-year-old from the floor while already holding my 5-year-old in the other arm. As soon as I bent over and started to lift him up, I felt my back go out. This morning, I could barely stand at the sink to wash the breakfast dishes. I still got in those 5 1/2 miles.

Look, I’m nothing great. Many, many people have run much farther, more often, under more duress. I’m not writing this to try and impress anyone. The question is, why? Why do I continue running, pushing myself farther, fighting through pain? And, what the heck does this have to do with the first part of the post on rejection?

Simple. It’s about control. It’s about accomplishment.

I run because when I’m finished, and I’ve run farther than I did before, I feel like I’ve achieved something that day. And the only person who gets to decide whether or not I achieve it, is me. My ability to achieve is not dependent on the approval of a committee or waiting for someone to return my phone call. I will not receive an email thanking me for my time and effort but, regretfully, we must decline your run.

I run because on a day when I’ve received multiple grant proposal rejections and I’m feeling down about losing a potential client, I can still say to myself at the end of the day, “Holy crap! You ran 5 miles today! You’ve never done that before! That’s amazing!”

I run to battle rejection. I run to accomplish something. I run for therapy. That’s why I run.

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7 responses to “Running From Rejection

  1. Now I feel like a wuss for giving in to plantar fasciitis! I started running (if you could call it that) in March, but I have yet to learn to like it. But then again, I hadn’t looked at it this way before. Still think I’m going to wait until my feet stop hurting to start up again, but you’ve inspired me to start up again.

    • Ouch! I can’t blame you for giving in to plantar fasciitis. I was fortunate that all my maladies actually started to feel better the longer I ran. Can’t say the same for PF. Good luck!

      • I’m also running a lot now, Derek. I signed up for a half-Iron Man next June, so I’m alternating between running, biking and swimming.

      • Good for you! Secretly, one of my goals is to someday try a triathlon. I have a terrible swimming stroke, though. I’m actually considering taking lessons…

    • Might want to consider going to a running store and having a gait analysis done, Sue. My wife had such a terrible time getting started in running until she had a gait analysis done and learned what type of support she needed in a running shoe. She runs regularly now and pain free.

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