Thursday, January 5, 2012

Seriously ... Just Go Out And Enjoy The Run

Folks, I have a confession. Now, before I reveal this truth, let me just say it has taken me a lot of soul searching and some wrangling with my emotions.

This was not an easy revelation to come to grips with.

But I've finally accepted this fact. So, without a further ado, here's it is.

I, Jay Stancil, am not and will likely never become an elite runner.

Whew! That felt good to get off my chest.

Truth is, I've never since eternity I'm not an elite runner. Speed has never been one of my strong suits, and the odds of me BQ'ing aren't very good ... until I hit age 80. (Of course, they doesn't I want try to continual improve my times.)
Fact is, the majority of we runners are not elite runners or qualify for Boston. (Although I know there a few of you who read this blog can and have BQ'ed.) But that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for such goals, but stressing and worrying about it does not help.

In fact, it can suck the joy out of running.

And when that happens, it can derail your progress as a runner. It can cause you not to want to run.

I'm as competitive as they come. I don't like to lose, not even to my kids. But when it comes to running, my competitiveness only can take me so far. It fuels my passion for running. 

The chances of me winning a race are not in my favor. Depending on the size and distance of the race, I could win my age group - which I've done once. (Shocked the heck out of me, to say the least!) But that does not make me any less competitive. Rather, I channel that competitiveness to push myself for a better run, a PR. I race against myself.

Still, being competitive against yourself can drain the fun from the run. Had this happen to me during my second half marathon. I was so dead set on PR'ing and posting a sub-2:15 time that when I didn't come close to that time, I was frustrated and disappointed event though I did PR by nearly two minutes.

A few weeks after that half, I ran a 5K. Went into the race with no preconceptions, no real goal other than I hoped to post a time in the 27-28 minute range. I just wanted to participate in a race for the fun of it. All I did was post a PR of 26:34, placed 13th overall and won my age group.

Now, I'm not saying going into a race all loosey goosey is the key to posting a PR, winning your age group or the race itself.

But life's too short to not to enjoy the run. Running is and should be fun. Is there a lot of physical exertion and can it be hard and challenging? Sure, it is. That's part of fun, right?! 

The logo at the top of this post is from this illustriously awesome running group I'm a member of - the Idiots Running Club. It's a fun group. Lately, I'm spending way too much a lot of time on the groups Facebook page. The members of this club take running seriously just not themselves. (BTW, here's a link to a story about how the club came to be.)

One of my favorite episodes from the series "Friends" is the one when Rachel joins Phoebe for a run. Little did Rachel know of Phoebe's 'running form.' Phoebe ran like a little child out of control, without a care in the world. Unorthodox? You bet, but Phoebe was enjoying the run.

We run for so many different reasons. We run to be fit. We run to relieve stress. We run to challenge ourselves. And the list goes on and on.

But that doesn't mean running can't be fun.

Enjoy the run. Embrace the run. Have fun with the run.

Happy running!


  1. You're right about that! It's about the enjoyment, not the accolades! Nice post Jay!

  2. It is when you can't run that you realize how much you "enjoy the run" and miss it when you can't. I don't think that too many of us worry about winning a race, it like you say, it is more about challenging and pushing yourself.

  3. Harold - I agree. When I enjoyed my ankle last May and was sidelined for 4 days, I went nuts. I was thankful my inability to run was temporary.