Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while will know that I don’t get annoyed. At least not in print. I am more the ‘Live and let live. run and let run’ brigade.
...but I read something a few weeks ago which got under my skin. I read a fantastic post from one of our members. It was a tale of real success and progress. The sort of story that you just have to share with people who will understand. Nothing wrong there. So what was it that made me so annoyed?
It was nothing to do with the story. It was the fact that they seemed almost ashamed. The runner posting wanted to share their progress but they didn’t feel right about calling it success. Where does that come from?
I then read another post from runner in another forum from a runner who was very disparaging about runners who they thought were non serious. i.e. Those who were not trying to win. Those who were discovering running later in life. The language used was insulting and what hit me more was that the person posting was completely oblivious to the impact that their words may have. He seemed to think that the everyone only runs to try and get on the podium. It was almost as if everyone else was running for his benefit so that he could demonstrate how good he was and beat them.
This simply isn’t the case.
I think he thought that during a 10k with a few thousand runners taking part, everyone was looking to see who came in the top 3 and was very impressed. I have done hundreds of races and I can safely say that with the odd exception (I once came 3rd – It was a long time ago!), I have no idea who won.
Running offers us so many benefits that many runners measure their success without considering times or race positions.
Running is not owned by a few people who are relatively quick compared to a few other people. We do not run with their permission and should not be seeking their approval.
Of course, most quick club runners understand that and they are encouraging, helpful and supportive. Unfortunately some aren’t and we end up with disparaging comments that say more about the commenter than anything else.
The real question is why we want to run in the first place. If it is because we want to win races then that is great but the answer will be different for each of us.
So…have a go at these 3 questions and see what comes out of the other end. It may not be what you first thought. Be honest with the first answer and then use questions 2&3 to dig a little deeper.
1. Why is running important to you? (e.g. I want to improve my fitness)
2. Take you answer from question1 and ask ‘..but why is that important to you? (e.g. Because I don’t want to die young from heart disease. I want to feel good in my clothes and keep my emotional state level)
3. One last time..Take that and ask ‘…but really. Why is that important to you?. (We only get one life, I don’t want to waste it. I want to enjoy my grandchildren and remain active into later life)
I went through the process and at no point did I mention coming third in a local race. I did that once and I loved it but it isn’t my real reason for running. For me, it is to do with maintaining my weight and keeping on an emotional even keel. I want to live a long and happy life that I can share with my family.
We can measure our success better when we first realise why we run in the first place. We need to challenge that dialogue that exists out there that it is all about times and podium finishes.
I enjoy running fast and enjoy trying to beat my previous times and for a few years that was all I did but I now have much more important reasons for getting out of bed for an early morning run.
I used to run with a club who had a number of different groups that ran on club nights. The slowest groups had christened themselves ‘The Slugs’. After yet another lay off, I returned on club night and went out for a 7miler with them. The pace was slower than I had ever run but I found it a humbling experience.
What I found was a group of dedicated, serious runners. They raced more often than most other groups and were more regular attendees at club nights as they seemed to be injured less than the faster groups. I came out of that evening with a different perspective than previously. For these people, running was deeply ingrained in their lives and there was real camaraderie in their group.
There are millions of runners out there with millions of reasons for running. It is folly to assume that everyone is there for the same reason as you. Understand your reasons, dig a little deeper and you will find the motivation that you need to be a runner in the long term.
You don’t need permission from anyone to run. Mark your progress against your own criteria and ignore everyone else’s agenda. Be proud of your achievements and shout them from the rooftops. We are listening and applaud you all. Bravo running folk. Bravo!