Last week someone told me he didn't understand why anyone who doesn't run a sub 7:00 minute mile even bothers to run in a race. Granted, he was talking about his own lack of motivation to run versus other forms of exercise and he didn't know I race or my mile times, but all the same that's not the first time I've heard that sentiment expressed. You have no hope of winning, so why do you even bother racing?

Ugh. Spare me!

We all have our opinions of how something should or should not be done. We all have opinions on worthwhileness or strategy or futility. You're not going to win the race so why bother entering? Fine. You're never going to be Jimi Hendrix so why bother playing Guitar Hero? You're never going to win a Pulitzer Prize so why bother writing? You're never going to xyz so why bother abc? If you're never going to be elite, then what's the point?

But as they say on the Appalachian Trail, "hike your own hike." Run your own run! Race your own race! At the risk of sounding too modern or hipster, You do you.

Now of course this isn't an excusal for mediocrity, but rather a point that any running is not mediocre, but is rather a herculean effort. Some folks may lament that everyone and their mother is racing nowadays, but that's still not mediocre. It takes incredible mental and physical strength to run, especially in our society that encourages sedentary activities. Furthermore, racing is a performance - you are putting your efforts and suffering and heart out there for the world to see. Is that sweat or tears streaming down your face? It doesn't really matter except half your hometown just saw it.

The point is, the sort of scornful disdain that cheapens slow runners is not productive and is absolutely unnecessary. In reality we're not going to stop telling other people what to do or how to live their lives (but just a reminder to vote for the candidate I believe is the best fit for you in the coming elections, right?!?) but we could do with a healthy dose of "oh please just shut up!" Shut up to the people who don't think others run fast enough. Shut up to the people who think women shouldn't hike alone. Shut up to the naysayers, to the doubters, to the cynics and the skeptics and the Schadenfreude-dwellers. And most importantly, shut up to all the little voices inside our heads - those that mimic and amplify all those external doubts and then add some more just for kicks and giggles. SHUT UP! Because trust me, when you're that guy who runs his first mile after heart surgery, or if you're the little girl finally trying out for sports, or if you're just some average runner who tries hard and crushes your goal time, the feeling is INCREDIBLE.


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