Reply to a love letter

November 13, 2008

Mike Salkowski titled his latest blog entry “Love Letter to Greg Crowther and Great Runs.”

Those of you making “boom-chick-a-wow-wow” sounds can go to hell, because it’s a great little essay. Mike’s main concern is the feeling of staleness that accompanies periods of plateauing or declining race performances. He quotes his favorite fortune cookie fortune — “The greatest effort isn’t concerned with the results” — and then adds:

My guess is that even while you are a fierce competitor, glancing at the finishing clock while breaking the tape isn’t what you remember about the great races. Instead, I bet you remember and savor the feeling of really running well on those days more than the eventual outcome. I mean the feeling of just KILLING it, turning the screw at the critical time and finding more in the legs to give, or fighting back with courage against overwhelming fatigue and holding firm in your resolve. I’m talking about finding and lingering in that elusive place where so much joy and so much pain intertwine, when you are truly giving your best effort naturally without any second guessing.

As a very practical person whose effort is almost always aimed at achieving some sort of result, I’m not as taken with that fortune as Mike is. Still, I recognize wisdom in his words. There certainly is profound joy in digging deep and finding more strength than you thought you had, irrespective of your final time or place. Mike is saying that we shouldn’t let our concern for the official results get in the way of that joy, and I agree. I will always obsess about my times because that’s what my genome tells me to do, but I can strive to limit that obsession by “living in the moment” — running in the moment — as much as possible.

Thanks, Mike.

One comment

  1. Believe me Greg, I'm as obsessed as you are with times and results, especially as I move towards the end of my 30's while my local competitors move into their prime. While my arc of improvement starts to flatten theirs is still swinging upward with abandon.As I mentioned, the entry started as a simple comment about your posts but grew into something more. I think it was also a way for me to deal with the stops I had to make during my last marathon and the haunting question of "how much time do you think you lost?" (which I've asked myself much more often than others who know me have).This isn't too "Oprah", is it?Thanks for the response, and for taking my post in the spirit it was written.

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