It was a beautiful, clear, and kind of crisp Saturday morning a couple of weekends ago. A morning when you know a training run is the perfect place to be. So there I was showing up on the High Line at Goodson to do a few miles with Lila, Chris, and Frank from our 5:30 AM group (we slept in and went at 7:00 AM).
The surprise we all noticed was the amazing number of others that were there with their groups. The Diva's, the Galloway Group (think I saw Mike Costas!), LLS Team 'N Training, and dozens of others were firing up their engines. It was impossible NOT to remember two decades or more ago when the ONLY group that MIGHT be on the trail with any numbers was the Team 'N Training crowd led by Maureen Roben or me.
What a wonderful evolution!
Maureen's business ally, Alan Lind, brought to my attention a fascinating article, "The Slowest Generation" that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal . The author, Kevin Helliker, a fitness athlete (multisport and running) points to how the current generation is embracing mediocrity and scoffing at competing.
The irony to Alan and me rested in a conversation we had earlier in the week. Both of us agreed that the present running community was less interested in bettering their time at a certain distance or improving their time from year to year at a certain race. That seems to be a problem that could churn into a bigger problem in the next few years if left unchallenged. So begins my lecture (with apologies to those I might offend).
How many of us hope and believe that our children and our friend's children model after us? You may think they're not paying attention to how you conduct your life, but they are. If your message is "just have fun, don't work too hard, don't set goals to improve upon" then the Color, Bubble, and other untimed events are your next stop. If instead, you believe improvement through hard work is a better choice, then just finishing a distance competition is not what you're about.
I do understand you have to start somewhere and all those training groups noted above, like Runners Edge, are perfect ways to get in the game.
As adults we should be instilling in our children (by example and by instruction) a keen sense of healthy competition. The investment of hard work through training and eventually testing through racing is paramount to positive self-worth and success in other life arenas.
Your performance at the Kaiser Permanente Colfax Marathon , Rock 'N Roll, or Park to Park is noticed by your friends, your colleagues, and by your family. They may not understand the implications of your time or place (of course you do), but they "get" that it was a challenging event that they can wrap their brain around and test their fitness imagination. It is highly probable that more than one person gathered sufficient inspiration from your competition to get outside and get started on that tough journey to happy fitness!
If you watch a child's field day or fun run, you'll quickly note that a majority try to go fast. Most are smiling. Why do we as adults and the array of untimed events in the market try to dull that knife's edge? Do we imagine that we are doing it for the sake of the child's comfort? Wouldn't it be better to define their fitness as a competitive and fun activity that will carry them through life with a goal of excellence in all they try to accomplish?
Recently, at the Quad Cities Marathon I listened to an excellent talk by Dane Rauschenberg, an extreme runner who has another book out, 138,336 Feet to Pure Bliss . His talk (the same one he gives to school classes) challenges us to try to do hard things that others might not want to do. He's not trying to make us all competitive athletes. Instead, he's trying to give us that adult push that will serve us well for the rest of our lives. So the next time you're choosing an event, choose the one that is both fun AND where you can measure your improvement. You'll be smiling, too.
To further focus on this topic, I serve as the Race Director for theColfax Marathon. It's really fun for a variety of reasons, one of which is noticing how it's become the largest event where corporations and businesses choose to enter their runners and teams. It has turned into Colorado's biggest corporate race with $50,000 in prize money that the teams get to give to one of our Charity Partners. These relay teams are vying for better times than other teams. I've presented many of those teams and charities with their awards and prize checks in special ceremonies over the past few months and I can testify they care about performance!
My travels take me all over the country for the next several weeks. I'll be here for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K on October 6th, then on to the Rock 'N Roll 10k in Brooklyn, back to Des Moines for their marathon and then wrapping up October with a trip to the Rock 'N Roll St Louis . If your schedule includes one of those, please come by and say hi!
Please join us locally in Colorado for the always fun Halloween Hustle on October 27th!
|Check out this year's bib!|
Thanks for enduring my rant about trying to work a bit harder to get a bit better. I know from personal experience that as we age it's a slippery slope. Th at doesn't mean we stop trying!