Running Strong Hero

Hope Is Not A Strategy

“Waiting is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal.” – Hexegram #5 Hsu / Waiting (Nourishment)  – The I Ching or Book of Changes

Perseverance furthers. That wisdom was instilled in me from the very first time I began working on myself. I love the fact that the word “competition” derives its meaning from the Latin words con and petrie: “to search together.” In other words, the best way to find out how good my skills are is to match them against the skills of other people with similar ability.(1) Competition is not ego oriented for me any more. I’m less concerned with the final results than I am with searching out the best in myself.

This means much more to me than simply “doing my best” or “giving 100%.” That’s not specific enough for me. Points of focus, technique, and realistic running speeds/distances, set just above my current skill level, give a direction to my running. Task oriented goals like these are the building blocks of my motivation, and learning to set the right goals helps me enjoy the process of competition — and the practice of extending my personal limits — immensely.

I believe this is one of the reasons why African runners tend to do better than most non-African runners. Look at their stride. They don’t think too much about planning or splits. They do things in more in a natural way. But at the same time, they can also get carried away.

It’s not uncommon to see the Ethiopian or Kenyan leaders in a race cast caution to the wind by impulsively going out faster in their opening mile than anyone else would dare. Sometimes they even sacrifice their own race by going out hard, dropping their competitors only to tire in the late stages to allow one of their teammates to ultimately win. The pundits wonder why they do such things. It doesn’t make sense — at least from the point of view of winning a race. They don’t seem to worry about such things. One could argue that they are running with more fire.

It’s impressive but it can be both good and bad, gambling in this way. The physical shock can be staggering. You have to be mentally and strategically organized in order to withstand it. If you stand at the starting line and just expect it to happen, and haven’t thought about what you need focus on, it won’t happen.  My advice is to push yourself in a relaxed way. If you’re not too ambitious, you’ll eventually learn to measure your own capacity with accuracy. This is how you learn to run with more fire – to continually work just that small bit beyond what is required on race day.

Read more on this topic here

Footnotes –

(1) M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow in Sports, Human Kinetics – 1999

(2) T. Tanser, More Fire – How to Run the Kenyan Way , Westholme Publishing – 2008

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