“Am I last?”
The words uttered barely 300m into a 12km road race.
“Definitely not,” I replied.
“I was last the last time I ran this. I just don’t want to be last again.”
It was the Not The Roman IX, or NTRIX. An undulating 12km road race in rural Stratford-upon-Avon. It was my first time, but my running companion’s second.
It was her local race, her parents and family friends live in the main village we passed through, we ran past her daughter’s school.
“We can’t walk in the village, we have to run, I can’t be seen walking.”
Any of this sound familiar to you?
We often put more pressure on ourselves than those who are at the front of the race, those who have high stakes in the event.
Is it because we berate ourselves more if we don’t achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, regardless of how much of a stretch they were in the first place?
Is it because we think of other people before ourselves and judge them for how they must be thinking of us?
Is it because we believe that if we are last then we have failed, despite the fact we will still have completed the same hilly course as everyone else?
The very fact that you are out there, running, while others are not, should be reason to celebrate.
We weren’t last and we knocked off some time from the previous event. The hill in the middle was a biggie, but we knew our limits and walked it, saving our legs and lungs for the rest of the run.
Could I have run faster?
Most definitely. But sometimes the reason you run isn’t to go fast. Sometimes it’s to keep others company, to help them when they hit dark patches, to get them up and down the hills, to run through the village, to chat to.
And when you near the end, if you ask if they can run a bit faster to the finish and they say no, you still run with them and let them finish just ahead of you.
Leave the ego at home and enjoy your running, wherever it may take you.