A great irony for most runners is the inability to feel fully satisfied with their latest accomplishments. I often hear runners (including myself) make comments like, ”It was nice to finish my third marathon but now I really want to shave 15 minutes off and qualify for Boston.” Even first-time distance runners will often say, “I’m glad I finished my first half marathon but my training partners are convinced I can finish a full marathon if I put my mind to it.”
Some friends, family and even fellow runners may see these comments as disingenuous bragging. I have a more wholesome view of how we as runners think and why we make such comments. To the uninitiated, it would seem that finishing an endurance event should leave us feeling self-satisfied and content to take the next six months off. In reality, though, it typically creates a sense of restlessness. Being a runner forces us to constantly strive to go further, move faster and reach higher. It creates an inherent desire to constantly push our limits, to find out what we are truly capable of.
On the organizational side, we’re well aware of this mindset and do what we can to capitalize on it. Our Prevea Luv2Run youth running program is a critical aspect of our long term planning. Through this free program at local schools, elementary age children have the opportunity to launch their running careers and train for the Cellcom 5K. Those who finish the program earn the opportunity to run in the 5K for the nominal fee of $5.
Outwardly, this program showcases our efforts at creating a healthy community and fighting childhood obesity. But don’t get me wrong — there is definitely an ulterior motive. If we can create a whole generation of young 5K runners, these kids will be the distance runners of tomorrow. I like to imagine that when my own children finish the 5K for the first time, the first thing they’ll wonder is how much faster they might run it next year. And perhaps ten years down the road, they’ll start to think about stepping up to a half marathon. It’s a long-term view, but it’s one that will pay dividends for decades if it works.
Like a type of graduation, we should all strive to move up the ladder from 5K finisher to 10K finisher to half marathon finisher to marathon finisher to Boston qualifier to ultra-marathoner, triathlete, Ironman, etc., never fully satisfied and always thinking ahead. Dave McGillivray, the BAA Boston Marathon Race Director and a close friend of mine, is fond of saying “My greatest accomplishment is my NEXT one.” So what’s YOUR next accomplishment?
Cellcom Green Bay Marathon