Why Runners Are Models Of Success

On my run today, in the rain, slipping in the mud, I had an inspiring thought. I am successful because I am a runner; I am not a runner because I am successful.

Being a life-long runner I believe that runners are models of success, not because of the running itself but from the tools, tricks, and methods a runner must employ to advance in the sport. I am not saying that everyone has to run to be successful but if you observe runners carefully, you will notice a few things.

For starters, runners are experts when it comes to setting goals. There are training goals, racing goals, and most runners have goals reaching at least a year out in advance. Ask any runner what his or her upcoming races are they will tell you and they will tell you exactly how they are going to train to get there including all of the other races they will do in preparation.

Runners for the most part are also obsessive about measuring everything. Some runners are more data driven than others but any runner can tell you their personal best time for any distance. The more obsessive runners are masters of metrics. They will know the distance variances of any race course, the weights of different running shoes, the total mileages for the week, the month, and the year within a tenth of a mile. Most runners measure almost everything: speed, heart rate, distance, averages, etc. All this data is important and gets analyzed by runners to measure progress.

When it comes to “time” there is no other group that is as fanatical about time as runners are. Runners who are more dedicated can shoehorn a training run into the most hectic and demanding of schedules. Runners know by heart all of their times and if you hang out with a bunch of runners, they will know yours too. Time is the great measuring stick that all runners compare everything else to in relation. Runners know the value of time and for the most part know how to make the best of it.

All runners become injured at one point or the other so overcoming obstacles in training and racing is nearly a full time occupation. Beyond injuries other obstacles that runners work to overcome include, illness, hectic life schedules, and even financial ones… it costs a lot to run and race and to pay for registration fees. Runners learn how to budget and make trade-offs to do what they love to do.

Outside of talent, what makes a good runner a good runner is discipline. A runner is dedicated to do whatever it takes to train and a serious runner will not blanche at the thought of running in weather conditions that might be best left to ducks, Eskimos, or even camels… Dedicated and disciplined runners run regardless of the conditions and their results usually show that. Runners adopt the belief that they will do what others won’t today so they can do what others can’t tomorrow.

Lastly, runners are better at dealing with failure and adjusting to it than others are. A runner knows that you can never really predict what is going to happen on race day. Everything can go right and you put up an awesome time, or things can go horribly in the other direction. Runners have expectations but they also know that expectations though high, often must be tempered. That is also reflected in their goals for any event as most runners show up with an A goal, a B goal, and a C goal, for just in case.

You don’t have to be a runner to be successful, not by a long shot, but many of the traits that successful runners exhibit can be seen in most people who have had great success in life. And all of these skills and tools that runners possess are not automatically ingrained in most cases, they are learned over time and often through some very hard lessons at that.

Running has taught me so much about life and as I have always said, at least for me, it is a great metaphor for life. Besides the fitness benefits derived from running, the lessons I have learned that can be applied to everyday life are too numerous to even begin to catalog. But if you look at any successful runner and what it took for them to reach that level I believe you would also agree that indeed, runners are models of success.

As a runner, I know I am biased but can you think of any other sports athletes that model success as much as runners do?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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  1. […] Why runners are models of success. (He left out why so many ultrarunners are dirt bagging beer drinkers though.) […]

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