I recently took first overall in a local 5K. Only 54 runners ran. Second place went to a 12-year old runner. I felt sheepish even posting my race summary. The day after I was reading the February/March issue of Running Times. The Editor's Note had a nice article that talked about the secrets of success. One of which was to 'show up'. In short, it basically reminded me that in order to win one must show up. If you don't show up, you cannot win. So take any win you get. You showed up. If faster runners didn't bother to participate, that is their issue, not yours. Here is the article in full, taken from the issue. Enjoy....and get out there and show up!
By Jonathan Beverly
As featured in the FebMarch 2012 issue of Running Times Magazine
Warren Buffet's wife reportedly taught her children and grandchildren a list of five secrets to success. My wife often quotes these to my son when he's nervous about an upcoming test or ball game. Recently, I noticed how well the "secrets" apply to running, particularly to masters running, which we focus on this issue. Here's the list:
1) SHOW UP
This is 90 percent of the battle. Runners are well aware that how high you place in a race is often tied more to who showed up than how fast you ran. I've won a local 10-miler four out of the past five years simply because no fast runners have shown up. I could feel funny about this, but, given my advancing years, and the fact that I did show up, fit enough to run the hilly dirt course, I'll take it. My qualifier there--"fit enough"--reflects something runners also know, namely, that showing up is more than being there on race day; it's a lifestyle. To be successful, you have to "show up" every day. To really succeed, you have to show up mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but even just showing up physically and getting in some miles will put you ahead of the majority who dabble in their training or try to race without training. Showing up, in all aspects, is even more important for masters. Each year, being healthy and on the starting line becomes increasingly the first mandate of our training and lifestyle, more important than any specific workouts, mileage totals or race strategies.
2) TELL THE TRUTH
In running, this seems to me to mostly be about telling yourself the truth: You have to be honest about your current fitness, strengths, weaknesses, age, ability to handle the course and conditions. When we asked "The Sports Scientists" to look at the limiting factors for the marathon in our November issue it was somewhat of a surprise that their overall conclusion was this point as most of the problems stem from erroneous pacing due to not telling yourself the truth about your fitness. For a masters runner, not telling the truth to yourself almost inevitably means not being able to make rule No. 1, as you'll be injured.
3) PAY ATTENTION
The key to any good training program is that it's tailored to the individual. To know what the individual needs, the runner and coach (especially if the same person) must pay attention. Again, while true for all, this becomes magnified for masters, as the type of training you can handle and the reaction to that training not only change with age but change differently for each person. Nowhere are we more "experiments of one" as when we carry our running past youth. As Roger Robinson says in his overview of masters training, "There is consensus on many things. But dealing with aging is always a tangle of senescent cells, wisdom, denial and defiance."
4) DO YOUR BEST
If you're not going to do your best, why bother showing up? This one is a no-brainer. As we age, however, those for whom "doing your best" has meant "doing your all-time, genetic-limit best" have to adjust to concessions not allowed in youth. This is the theme of Alex Sebastian's essay, inspired by the age-based handicapping of the Dipsea. Even with adjusted realities, however, success still requires doing your best on any given day.
5) DON'T BE TOO ATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME
While not downplaying the others, this might be my favorite "secret" as it's so counterintuitive to the mainstream idea of "success"--the very word seems attached to some measure of the outcome. But tying ourselves to the outcome is a sure way to sabotage actually doing our best. I recall the lights that came on the first time I saw this articulated clearly, in a November 1999 Running Times article by the late Andy Palmer entitled, "How Badly Do You Want It?" Palmer wrote, "You must be truly able to 'let go,' to become a split personality of sorts. It's not easy; after all, you are striving to do your very best, yet you have to not care about the result. Running the race should be the most important thing in your life while you are running it, yet you can't care how it turns out." Not to beat a dead horse, but again, this is so much more important for aging runners, as your outcomes change to the extent that you start to wonder if the effort is worthwhile. Only by not getting too attached to the outcome can you continue to show up and enjoy success.
Rest assured, there's plenty in the pages to come for the whippersnappers as well as the masters--our profile of Jenny Simpson, our high school and college coverage, and multiple training articles--and these rules above apply to all. If you pay attention, some day you too may be enjoying success long after your peers have stopped showing up.