Defining Success When You Don’t Want to be the Best

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I’ve blogged in the past about my love for running and why I do it. I’ll never be fast enough to run with the front of the pack- unless I’m still running when I’m 80 (which is when my marathon times will be fast enough to qualify me for Boston.) Although I do like challenging myself and want to stay in good shape, I don’t run to lose weight. I do it because I love it. Running is my stress reliever, and part of what makes me, me. When I’m going through a hard time or my day didn’t go as smoothly as planned, I can’t wait to get out and run. My runs aren’t always easy, and sometimes I just want to stop and go home. But then I think about the feeling I’ll have when I’m done, and that sense of accomplishment is enough to push me through to the finish.

I’ve been passed in races by a pregnant woman running up a hill and a man pushing two toddlers in a double stroller. Lucky for me, I’m not a competitive person. I’m very competitive with myself and like to see how my body can rise up to meet a challenge. But it doesn’t bother me to be passed by people, young or old. Especially right now when I’ve been battling an injury that limits how often I can run or how comfortable the run will be, I’m happy when I can just get out there pain-free.

My dad is also a slow runner; I think it’s in our genes. I’ve seen him get down on himself about races, saying how terrible his time was or how he wishes he could get faster. He just turned 65 and is still running half marathons. I tell him that the fact that he’s out there running at all is a huge accomplishment. Does he really need a time clock to tell him whether or not he’s a success? No way.

John Schwartz recently wrote a New York Times article about running, and it struck a chord with me. He said that when he runs, he’s not out there to prove anything to himself or anyone else. It’s part of his routine and something he enjoys, but he’s not focused on getting faster or running farther.

When you know you’ll never be the best at something, how do you define success? Are there any physical activities you do just because you like them, and not because you feel like you should?

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