The Perfect Runner
We all want to be that perfect runner. The one who can win at Boston, out dual the competition at Western States and Leadville or blaze the mile in under four minutes.
Can we all reach that level of running perfection?
Sounds good, right. Unfortunately all runners are not created equal. At conception we can’t pick our genes or station in life to ensure we are destined to reach runner excellence. We can however make the most out of the running cards we were dealt.
When I look back at the traits that were passed down to me, I understand the Olympic podium was not in the cards, and never would have been. Although I can make the most out of what I was given and I can develop new talents or build upon what abilities I may already possess.
SPEED – I always thought I was a fast runner, then I ran my first race as an adult. I understand my speed is relative. Slow for some, and fast for others. I’ve come to realize and accept this is an area where with concentrated training I can continue to improve. Like any trait worth acquiring, I just have to put in the hard work.
ENDURANCE/STAMINA – As a kid growing up if something got too hard, became too difficult I would find a new activity to engage in. I did not quit, I just “moved on.” Unfortunately in running if you “move on” during a race, it is quitting. As a grown up I realized that not finishing something I started was a reflection on me. I do not want to be seen as someone who started something that was too big, too hard, or not important enough to finish. As for the mature me when I sign up for a race, you can take it to the bank I will finish.
GRIT – aka “Runners Toughness” Running hurts, no matter if you’re trying to break into the 5 minute mile club or trying to run 100 miles in under 24 hours. Running hurts. This is not a trait I believe I was born with. I used to give up when it got painful…but over the years I’ve grown into a runner who can deal with a fair (large) amount of pain.
MENTAL STRENGTH – A lot of a running gifts or talents are physical abilities. What sets most world class runners apart is mental strength. The ability to push past any performance barriers, to have the determination, the resolve is key to getting the most out of your body in a physical way. It hurts to strive for 100%. It’s painful to push yourself to the limits. It’s downright uncomfortable to give everything you have to offer. It takes mental strength to reach your goals or to win the prize of coming in first.
TOUGHNESS – In this sense of the word I’m not talking about being tough as in being able to handle pain. I’m speaking about toughness as the ability to not break down physically. It would be near impossible to handle the mileage needed to be world class if your body could not handle the toll. Here the more seasoned runner that I’ve come to be has learned that I can’t just run. I have to take care of my body by fueling it properly, resting it when needed and caring for it in a way that is equal to the efforts I put into running.
No matter what gifts you were given…as long as you keep running you can develop yourself into the runner that you want to be.