Why I Run …. By Ron Jackson
Do you smile before and after you run? Do you feel good about your accomplishments after you compete? Do you not mind coming in second to a better prepared competitor? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have probably learned some of the many life lessons that this sport has to offer. The great thing is that there are so many more lessons to learn. Enjoying running is a self contained experience. It does not depend on anything else to fulfill its purpose. Having fun and feeling good about oneself is a prime motivator.
We all like to win but winning is relative. I would always tell my charges that “I can always find a race for you to win and one for you to lose; so how important can that really be?” I’ve even heard some track greats say that they are determined to go out a winner even if they have to find a high school race to compete in for their final time. Guess what? winning that last race won’t make them a winner or loser. It will only remind them of what makes them who they are. I remind all young runners that their careers will not boil down to a single race or even a single moment. It will be the aggregate of their total achievements in the sport. The most significant race may very well be the last one you run but not because you win or lose but rather it will be the one you will remember forever. The one that defines your effort and your level of commitment to excellence and since none of us really knows the future we can only guess when that race will come. For that reason alone you must vow to run each race as if your legacy depends on it, for it may very well. You must prepare to give your very best effort each time you step on the track. Not for the coach, your parents or your teammates but for yourself. You want to remember that you left it all on the track and win or lose no one will ever be able to question your level of commitment.
I often think of the great competitors in the history of our sport and unlike many other sports our greats are not measured by the number of victories they obtained but the amount of personal effort that they expended in achieving those goals and the quality of their performances. They may have been measured for a single goal but they were forever remembered for a lifetime of achievement.
It was possibly the greatest race I had ever seen but for the life of me I can’t remember any of the vital details. I remember the moment, the thrill and thinking that I will never forget this race but However regrettable, I have forgotten many of the details. Who ran? What was their time and what ever happened to so and so? Sad but true we all become a memory when we fail to remain relevant.
I want to remind all young athletes that there will come a time that you will replace most of your cherished current achievements that you thought you’d never forget with moments of greater significance and greater achievement. Most sporting activities, but especially track and field, are a collaboration of special moments, one eclipsing the other, each remaining special unto itself. I say this to remind you that your greatest accomplishments are probably yet to come and living in the past may block your athletic development. It is sad to say but no one really remembers all of the details of a nine year olds’ performance. Maybe mom or dad will because that’s their job. Yours is to store it away in memory and continue to improve. The last thing you really want to be is part of a trivia question. What ever happened to that cute little nine year old that ran so fast way back then? I thought that she was going to be great! Everybody did. You must continue to grow, learn and develop in order to remain relevant. The ones that do, make the rest of us stand up, take notice and document their achievements. No one has to wonder about the great Jesse Owens or Carl Lewis. They can read about them because their accomplishments remain relevant even today.
You must always remember that first and foremost you run for YOU.