Do you know what I love most about running a marathon? I love many aspects about racing. I love the endorphins. I love being looked at as a little crazy. I love the challenge. I love the community. I love the swag and medals. But all these are just gravy. What I love more than anything else about running a marathon is that I’m not trying to beat anyone else except myself. I love how it is a sport full of community, but it is also about individual performance and achievement.
Runners are all participating in the same race, yet their goals, their game plan, and their training are all unique. Unless you’re an elite, running isn’t defined by winning the race. Rather, winning is defined by individual accomplishment.
Isn’t this the same with life? Individuals can have different goals and different game plans, yet both can win their own race.
I love the marathon because, rather than trying to beat each other down, runners encourage each other to keep going. They know that they aren’t competing against each other, they are only competing against themselves.
Winning is defined by individual accomplishment.
When we realize that same thing in the game of life, we can use it as fuel to drive us closer to our goals, and we can encourage and help others do the same.
It’s so different from the corporate arena where your manager doesn’t want you to know all that he does because he wants to keep you where you’re at. He doesn’t want you to surpass him. Sometimes work is a cut throat environment, and there is a ton of competition and insecurity. It’s almost a fend for yourself mentality where only one can win.
We saw the camaraderie and encouragement played out during the 2018 Boston Marathon. It was a crazy day with a 30-degree chill, drenching rain, and 25 mph headwinds. These conditions proved difficult for most, and Linden felt terrible and wasn’t feeling her race that day. She was in pain and had intentions of dropping out. So she decided, “Why not help someone else?” Fellow Olympic runner Shalane Flanagan was near, so she reached out and let her know she may need to drop out, so she could help her, be her headwind, or whatever else she needed for the time being.
Flanagan had to stop at the restroom, and Linden even stopped to wait for her. Linden knew the principle that even though it looks like they are competing against each other, they really are just competing against themselves to be their very best. What happened? Somehow, Linden got a second wind after stopping at the bathrooms and went on to not only finish, but also become the first American woman to WIN the prestigious Boston race. What did she do? She took her eyes off herself and encouraged another runner.
Part of defining your dream is defining what winning looks like for you.
So when you’re in the midst of going after a goal, remember that you can win too. A part of developing your dream is defining what winning looks like to you. There’s no time to be in competition with others. There’s room for all who choose to win. You need to define what it will take for you to win. What does that mean? What is your race? What does winning your race look like to you? Is it getting to the finish line? Is there a time goal attached? Are you bringing others along with you?
Develop this, draw it out and define these terms in your life. Set the goal. Create a deadline, and go after it knowing the race of life is individual and unique to you, and you decide if you’ll do what it takes to win. I’d love to hear what winning means to you. Share in the comments below.
Competition is a by-product of productive work, not its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. — Ayn Rand (Russian-American Novelist)
I love the marathon because it’s an atmosphere where a bunch of runners — all shapes and sizes, male and female, young and old — come together in community, yet each has his own goal attached. Race day is about individual excellence. Get in the race of life and compete WITH others, not AGAINST them. Strive for excellence.
You are a winner. Just run YOUR race!