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Transcendence and Inspiration for Runners of Every Kind

February 03, 2019

There will always be somebody who is faster than you are, who can run farther, and do it all with less training or perhaps they just have more freedom in their lives to devote to running. You will never be as good as they are. At least, that is what our running culture wants you to believe. Today, we will transcend these things.

Comparing yourself to other runners is short-sighted and all too tempting. I have seen Twitter. It is full of 8-year-olds running 3-hour marathons and 50-year-olds breaking 30 minutes in the 10k. I have also run in various races. I have won accolades. I have felt the great feelings of glory that follows winning and the feelings of great shame and helpless when losing. All because of a number somebody wrote down next to my name and another number written down next to someone else’s name.

To transcend you must forget all names except your own and with it all times except your own. None of them are relevant. Then do away with your own name. You are left only with times. They are yours. They need no names because your times are the only ones you need.

When you push yourself against your own times you have become a purest form of athlete. There is another pure form of athlete which is based on athletic skill. That is not the kind of athlete I’m talking about. I speak of the athlete who triumphs purely based on strength.

Purest Form of Athlete

There is little skill involved in running, little strategy. It’s purely about how hard you can push your body. When you compete against yourself, you can’t get caught up in different body types giving different advantages. I will never have a VO2 max in the 70s, but I will always have my VO2 max. I may not ever have the right body ratios to have maximum running efficiency, but I will have my body ratios.

You are your own perfect specimen.

When you win against yourself, you are truly a triumphant athlete. You have conquered in the fairest of circumstances. Let that be your glory, let that be what inspires you. A Super Bowl championship is won through the convolution of impossibly complicated circumstances of players, coaches, politics, and luck. The glory of getting a Personal Record is, therefore, greater because the credit belongs solely to you. The control of it is all in your hands. Nobody can take that away.


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