Why Run if You Can’t Win?
Our culture makes a big deal about speed! The sport of running is built around the celebration of speed. All the famous names are fast. The Olympics do not have an award for last place.
Many ordinary runners also define success in terms of speed. Some legitimately aspire to a place on the podium. Others occasionally capture an age-group medal. Most have a desire to, at very least, win the race against their past. Each event is an occasion to try for a personal record (PR).
The day comes, however, when even that contest is sure to fail. If we are lucky, age makes us wiser; it doesn’t tend to make us faster. At some point in time, our PR is in the rear-view mirror. What then?
For some folks, that is the end of their love affair with running. It was all about winning the race (at very least, the race against aging). It is too painful to see a downward trend. It reminds us of mortality. For other folks, the first blush of a love affair becomes a “for-better-or-worse” relationship. That relationship accepts the limitations of age and the changes in body and spirit. It slows down and enjoys the journey more than the finish line. It acknowledges mortality, determined to run until we drop. When I was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2004, it was clear that my PR clock would need to be re-set. The drugs and rules under which I operated no longer allowed for maximum effort. I was faced with the choice: slow down, or stop altogether. Eight years later, I love my new running lifestyle. I run for joy. I run because I can. I run alone to experience solitude. I run with buddies to enjoy companionship. I run to maintain a healthy weight and to win the competition for good “numbers” (BP, HR, HDL, LDL, CRP). I run in different states to indulge my love of travel. I still want to do my best, but my best has been re-defined.
In coaching, we have a mantra “Everyone is doing their best, even when they’re not.” I like the compassion and insight embedded in that mantra. It applies in all areas of life, including running. What is your best, when it comes to an active lifestyle? Do you run or walk or bike or hike or kayak for joy? Can you see beyond the goals of an earlier time to find the deeper benefits? Let us know…
- Contributed by Pam Gardiner, Wellbuddies Coaching (find Pam on facebook!)