Success in athletics is measured by the number of wins you chalk up. I learned this on the playground. School team sports amplified that message. I never excelled in athletics and never participated in an organized sport.
It wasn’t until six years ago that I was able to move past my preconceptions of what an athlete is. Running, cycling and hiking are the norms in my life. It does make me an athlete. Being an athlete is not about the number of wins I chalk up at the finish lines. It is about the wins I chalk up in my life.
I thought I would share seven reasons I run knowing that I won’t cross the finish line first. These items are key in understanding how I define an athlete. It is about involving yourself in a sport and improving your life. That is the win that needs to be measured for success.
- Its good exercise. I wish I could say that I thoroughly enjoy every minute that I am running. That does happen to be the case when I am cycling. I find running difficult and boring at times. What keeps me going is the fact that it is good exercise, good for my body and gets me outdoors. When combined with the remaining items on this list, running comes out a winner.
- Meet good people. My friend Chuck convinced me to run with his group. I don’t know that I would still be running 3 years later if that would not have happened. I love the social aspect of cycling and was glad to find the same with this running group. They continue to inspire me and support me in my running life. If you are thinking of starting to run, I would strongly recommend joining a running group.
- A little competition doesn’t hurt. I felt very intimidated at the starting line at my first 5K. It definitely came from my background of no participation in competitive sports. Forty five minutes later it was a different story. There is a thrill that only a race can bring into a sport. It’s not about winning. It’s about how you see completion. My biggest competition is with myself. I want to finish and feel like a winner. Crossing the finish line first is far from the motivator.
- Running is motivational. Early in my running I found John “The Penguin” Bingham. He wrote several motivational books, blogged and was a regular contributor to a running magazine focusing on running as a slower mature man. I see running through his eyes. No matter where you are in the pack, at a race or with friends, motivation comes from the people around you. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a goal. Seeing and being part of that experience is sheer motivation.
- Makes me feel good. Earlier I shared that running does not stack up to cycling in my life. I can honestly say that even after the most difficult run, I feel invigorated and happy. This past year, I ran my first 10K in preparation for my first half marathon. It was mentally taxing to stand on that starting line. I found out that it was easier than I imagined. Better yet, my friends were there at the finish cheering me on. I felt real good.
- Opening new doors. I am a motivational writer junkie. I follow many people on social media who focus on inspiring and motivating others. One truth I have found that they have in common is that you need to be open to exploring new roads in your life. Running is one of those roads for me. It was out of my norm and not on may radar. It has given me much more confidence and desire to continue exploring other roads in my life.
- I stretch myself. I have to stretch myself to move forward in life. I have to be uncomfortable at times and surrender to possibly failing. Those are things that I have issues with in my very anal organized personality. Running farther and more often is a goal I am determined to conquer this year. I have put multiple half marathons on my calendar along with some more challenging runs. Let’s see how far I can stretch myself.