In past seasons, we talked about the “3 Ts” in distance running – Talent, Training, and Toughness . As we transition to the 3 Cs, I want to replace toughness with courage.
Steve Prefontaine is one of the most iconic American distance runners in history. At one point he held every American track record from the 2k all the way to the 10k. He never lost a college race in four years of competing in both cross country and track, and was undefeated his junior and senior years of high school. Of all the races he competed in his entire career, he won 120 of 152 races. But beyond his successes, he was really a phenomenon because of the way he raced (and lived). Click here for a great short video about Pre.
Pre was confident (maybe a little arrogant) and he ran with incredible courage. He said he’d do amazing things, and then he got on the track and would do them. People said he was incredibly tough, because of the gutsy way he ran, but I believe more than that he was courageous. It takes real courage to stand in front of the best runners in the country (or the world) and tell them you were going to beat them because you were willing to hurt more than they were. Pre did just that.
I know we cannot all be Pre – he was a very unique and gifted individual. But we can all be courageous. For some, it takes courage to even stand on a start line and anxiously await the gun. For others, it takes courage to trust the coaches and their parents when we tell them they can do something they’ve never done before. For everyone, it takes courage to commit yourself to the work with only a promise of success. Because it seems like it is far easier to slack off at practice, to skip long runs, to give in to the pressure in races and back off the pace, then it is to really give everything you have throughout a season and then come up short of your dreams. Some see trying and not succeeding as failure. The truth is, however, that the only way we ever really fail is if we don’t try, because the effort we put into our running (or any meaningful endeavor) is the true prize.
As Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Because of the amount of work that goes into it, it takes courage, it takes toughness, to be a true distance runner. You embark on a journey at the beginning of a season without knowing how far you’ll get. If you aim for the stars you may not reach them, but you will get to the moon – and that’s not too bad.
Don't be afraid to Dare Greatly,
Delta Hawks Coaches