On Your Left
By Ed Kornoelje DO
Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Sports Medicine
Have you seen the Avengers movie The Winter Soldier? If so you will remember a scene early in the movie where Captain America is running around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Due to his superhero speed, he runs past Falcon several times, each time yelling out “on your left” as a polite way to signal that Falcon will be passed (you guessed it) on his left. Many of you use the same phrase while biking or running in order to let the person you are about the pass know that you are coming in order to avoid a collision. While dropping my son back off at college this past weekend it struck me that in both racing and life there are a series of passes with brief interactions that can be both positive and negative as we push towards a goal.
If any of you have had the opportunity (we’ll go with that) to read some of my previous articles you know I occasionally use racing and training as microcosms of life. I don’t think this is a novel concept and I am guessing many of you have had some of the same thoughts. Working hard, setting goals, getting through tough stretches—these are all concepts that one may encounter in sports and life in general. So where can “on your left” help us out?
As I pulled away from the college campus where my son attends school I thought back to my time at college. I met lots of people, got to know some better than others, and soon moved on to medical school, where the process played out again—all of us moving towards a goal, much like swimmers, cyclist, and runners. In life and in racing some interactions are positive (like the runner who seems to pull you along for several miles), some less so (like the cyclist who zooms past you when you are feeling tired), and some fleeting (the brief knowing eye contact on the out and back—this is going to be tough). All of these interactions, no matter how brief, shape our races—and our lives. For any given day, race, or segment of life we don’t know who we will run into or what impact they will have, but we know they will occur. We will move, mostly forward, towards a goal, interacting with others, passing and being passed, often not seeing some of these folks ever again. Life, or a race—which is it? Both, of course. Once again, participating in a race is a fitting metaphor for life.
So as you plan your 2019 race year reflect on the lives you will affect both in racing and in life. You may never see some of the folks again, but your interactions may have a profound effect on their lives. Take time now to make sure those interactions are positive whether they be brief or long, and by all means let out a little cheer, even when you are getting passed—on the left.
Thanks for making Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Sports Medicine part of your plan in 2018. Look for updates in newsletters like this as we roll into 2019, or find more
information at metrohealth.net (search “sports medicine”).