EARNED RUNS IS ABOUT BEING COMPETITIVE, about setting goals, finding and following training programs, and then testing the results of training. Repeatedly. Earned Runs suggests that the use of competition bibs may help push this process forward if access to organized events is limited. Bibs can be a source of inspiration and motivation and employed to track progress, record successes, and document victorious seasons.
Earned Runs is not so much about “getting” fit but “becoming” an athlete regardless of age, previous training or sport experience, or body habitus*. It’s about achieving a life perspective in which daily activities are viewed as greater or lesser contributors to athletic successes but not to an endpoint of perfection.
To borrow an overused comparison, it not the destination but the journey that matters to an Earned Runs athlete. By striving to meet a variety of personal or public fitness challenges over an entire year, and then the next year, and the next, the Earned Runs athlete is able to find purpose in exercise and maintain a level of physical activity that benefits long term health.
An article by Sarah Lorge Butler for runnersworld.com, “You’re Never Too Old to Be Serious About Your Running,” highlights the competitive attitude of two runners who may not fit the typical demographic of elite athletes, yet embody the athletes Earned Runs wishes to support.
Jeanne Rice and Gene Dykes, both 71 years old and soon to be 72 in April this year, are featured as endurance race record holders who say a secret to staying competitive at levels that are the envy of younger runners involves focusing on goals and committing to continued hard work and training. Their quest to break records began only 2 years ago.
That genetic luck may have played a role in their late life successes, just as it must figure in the early careers of much younger athletes, isn’t disputed in Butler’s piece. What is featured in her story is their perseverance in training and willingness to put it all on the line in big time competitions, repeatedly, regardless of age.
According to Butler at the time the article was posted (March 5, 2020), Rice was the first to cross the finish line in her age group in Chicago in 2018 and was looking to compete in the March 2020 Tokyo Marathon after a strong showing in Berlin last autumn. Dykes came with seconds of a world record in his age group in Toronto’s 2018 Waterfront Marathon. This April he was planning to run the 5K in Boston as well as the London Marathon, or possibly Chicago in the fall. Of course, the upcoming Spring 2020 races will not be held as scheduled, we now know.
Key to their recent surge in elite running top finishes is annual goal setting and repeatedly participating in contests that they use to consistently push themselves in training. Butlers article, which tells more about their stories and histories, inspired me. In truth, it was the amazing images of ’oldsters’ like me that grabbed my attention; they were running together on a city street wearing competition bibs and looking amazingly athletic.
Although running since age 25, I only became ‘competitive’ in my early 60’s. Osteoarthritis issues took me down a couple years ago, but I’m making my way back with a combination of walking and running. This article helped me to realize that I too can continue to push my limits, by finding a training method that works for me under current constraints to safely avoid injury and repeatedly testing myself in personal challenges or organized events over the entire year.
Global viral infection concerns have led to the postponement of many major spring and summer events, and the virtual running of some. Depending on the resolution of current problems, we might see a huge rebound in Autumn 2020; making it a boom time for celebrating life itself and the resumption of traditional events.
Plan ahead, stay focused on training, and maintain readiness to race. Wait for it. The time will come to prove our mettle and rejoice in health, in competition.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*A medical term that refers to a human body’s “build, physique, and general shape”.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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