As runners, most of us fit in one of two categories:
#1: We strive to improve our abilities, or
#2: We accept our abilities and focus on the enjoyment of running.
The vast majority of runners will be some combination of these two extremes, but will be a little closer to one side or the other.
Both approaches have distinct advantages and disadvantages. If we strive to improve our abilities, we’ll actually improve our running skills. We’ll be able to run longer, faster, or both. We’ll likely identify weaknesses in our running abilities and take steps to improve. There are down sides, too. We may never feel quite satisfied. We could have always went a little faster or loner, or there will always be someone that does a little better. If we’re not chasing authentic goals (goals WE set as opposed to goals that are set for others), we may end up with a hollow sense of accomplishment. Lastly, we may look down on other runners that don’t share the desire to constantly improve.
The “running for enjoyment” personality has advantages, too. We’re likely going to play to our strengths. If we’re a road runner, we’ll stick to roads. We’re also more likely to be happy with our current situation. We don’t need to accomplish anything to feel good about ourselves. Lastly, we’ll be more likely to accept others for the runners they are without judging their abilities or performances. There are down sides to this mindset, too. We may feel like we’re not really accomplishing anything. We may feel our approach is just an excuse to be a lazy ass. We may shun others because they try to be competitive or improve regularly. Finally we may not be good advocates for the sport. We’re always happy with the status quo.
As you could probably guess, extremes of either are not good. Striking a happy balance somewhere would probably be the ideal.
What about you? Where do you fit in this dichotomy? How do you feel about the pros and cons of being that ‘type’ of runner?