A few years ago a buddy shared with me a conversation he’d recently had with a mutual friend before running a road race. As they were jogging to warm up their legs, my buddy asked our friend how fast he was planning to run. Our friend’s response was “As fast as I can.” This struck a chord with my buddy, and it did with me too, when he told me about it a few days later.
Early on in my own running career, I decided not to boast if I were fortunate enough to defeat others in a race. I would be lying, if I said I achieved this task in every race. Still, I held this out as a goal. However, if someone asked me how fast I thought I was going to run prior to a race, I would predict a finishing time for myself. I didn’t shy away from the question because I’d usually challenged myself in training to the extent that I could forecast with a degree of confidence, my approximate finishing time. Some might perceive this as bragging. But, I tend to disagree. I believe there’s a difference between bragging and having self-confidence as long as what is being said isn’t intended to diminish others or make one look better at others’ expense. Perhaps, though, I could have been a tad more humble.
We’ve all heard those overzealous runners. They’re the ones who have a tendency to broadcast their projected finishing time to everyone within earshot. And then, of course, there are those who will embellish on their finishing time regardless of the outcome. And let’s not forget the runners who purposely underestimate their finishing time so that if they exceed it, they can gloat about it. (Of course, when they don’t beat it, they can save a little face.) Meanwhile, some runners have no problem making exaggerated claims, and then coming up with excuses later. The problem with all of these folks is that they are more focused on how they want others to perceive them, than they are on running for themselves. For these types of people, I think peace and self-satisfaction can be elusive.
As far as my friend’s proclamation goes, it’s obvious he wasn’t worrying about impressing anyone else. He was running for himself. His focus was on running to his potential, regardless of those around him. In the simplicity of his candid statement, I believe there’s a profound lesson for all of us. The lesson is that we shouldn’t be worrying about trying to impress or outdo other people. Instead, we should be running our own races, and to the best of our own unique abilities and talents. To summarize, my friend, I think you and I should stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or thinking and run our own races. And, we should run them as fast as we can.