On Tuesday evenings, I go run with my group. I’m not a huge fan of running at night, primarily because my stomach is easily upset only when running at night, which is strange because I can normally eat whatever the hell I want and then run with no negative side effects. Thankfully I’ve almost figured out when I can eat my last meal so I’m not hungry during the run or feel like someone along side me is stabbing me with a paring knife. That doesn’t feel good. I’m always happy when I get home since I love good tempo runs, especially when they’re with other people and we have no idea what we will be doing until we get there…. you know, that element of surprise. Anyway, I’m making my family dinner for tonight and tomorrow, as a good domestic goddess does, and while I
sneak bits of Velveeta that I’m making into cheese sauce eat carrots, I can’t help but think about some conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks. One was with my husband and I had to tell him I REALLY wish I had a gas stove because I detest electric stoves after using gas for two years. I SWEAR that by the time my big pan of water is going to actually boil, all of the water will have steamed itself out of the pan because it is taking FOR-FREAKING-EVER. But I digress.
Another conversation was with a friend of mine who is adamant that faster runners judge slower runners. Maybe that is true or maybe it isn’t (although it is not true for me), but the point turned to how you feel about your own running. My point to the friend was this: DO NOT determine your own value by the time that reads when you cross the finish line. Find it in the fact that you set a goal, worked toward the goal, and then finished it.
I know I’m not the slowest runner and I’m not the fastest (this does not ring true for swimming as I’d be willing to make a fairly large bet that I would, in fact, be the slowest swimmer – the difference is that I DO NOT CARE). There will always be people who run slower than me and there will always be people who run faster. Again, I don’t give two hoots about that most of the time, as I am competing against myself and my own clock and my own goals. If I started to put my own value as a runner on how fast I finish, I would never be fast enough. I would never be good enough. That’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it?
Isn’t it contradictory to tell people to STOP worrying about their time when you’re discussing a sport where there’s a clock running to measure how you measure up? Isn’t the point to measure the fact that if you run faster, than you’re better? Well, yes and no. Faster doesn’t necessarily mean better. I look at the big picture. Races are typically their own organism. There’s days and weeks and months before them that can affect the outcome. Instead of finding reasons why we aren’t as good as others though, I truly believe we need to celebrate our finishes, no matter the time that reads when the finish line is crossed, no matter if it’s a 100 meter dash or an ultra marathon, whether you’re first or last. If you’re doing the work and finishing the race, that’s the real point of it. At least it should be.
The beauty of running is that so many people can share in the experience of a race and every finisher is celebrated. So I tell my friend that he needs to stop putting pressure on himself to be a certain speed. He is a runner, and that’s what really matters.