Monday, January 07, 2008

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Bill Bowerman (during prologue of Without Limits): Citius, Altius, Fortius. It means Faster, Higher, Stronger. Its been the motto for the Olympics for the last 2,500 years. But it doesn't mean faster, figher, stronger than who you're competeing against just; Faster. Higher. Stronger.

Over Christmas break I received the next batch of NetFlix movies and received a movie I have been looking forward to for some time.

Without Limits (1998) is based on the life of Steve Prefontaine, who, during his high school and college years, broke just about every 5k record that existed.

Pre believed there was one way to race and one way to train; give it everything you've got. No holding back, no saving for the end. When he ran a race, he got the front, built a huge lead, and stayed there.

He believed he had no inherent talent but his success on the track resulted in nothing less than hard work.
Mary: Not everything can be learned, somethings take talent.
Pre: Let me tell you something, talent is a myth, Mary. There's a dozen guys on the team with more talent in their little finger than I have in my whole body.

As I head out for a run the next morning I couldn't help but think about how much I'm holding back. I complete a 4 mile run and realize that I don't feel much different then after I take the dog for a 2 mile walk.
Pre: I don't want to win unless I know I've done my best, and the only way I know how to do that is to run out front, flat out until I have nothing left. Winning any other way is chicken-#^%@%.

My times have not significantly changed over the years and, while I suppose you could argue keeping steady times while you get older might actually be considered some progress, could my best times actually be ahead of me?

What would happen if I forgot about the limitations I put on myself? I'm not as young as I used to be. I'm not as thin as I used to be. My joints ache more. What if, as Pre believed, my only limitation was the level of effort I was willing to give? And, as Pre believed, there is no limit to your will.

Its difficult not to compare your individual performance against everyone around you, it's not necessarily the best way to track progress or performance. I have several years of training logs and race results and I realize the only competitor I need to worry about is myself.
Bowerman: The purpose of running a race isn't to win, it's to test the limits of the human heart...and nobody did it more often...nobody did it better.

So this year, while I had vowed to make it a year to get back to running for the run of running, I believe I can train harder, improve my times, and still have fun.

Bill Bowerman: Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort can win a race and a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn't necessarily demand that he give it everything he had from start to finish. But he never ran any other way. I couldn't get him to, and God knows I tried... but... Pre was stubborn on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. 'A race is a work of art' is what he said and what he believed and he was out to make it one every step of the way.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Russ, thanks for the movie suggestion. Found you pre Chicago '07 marathon as I was also a Children's Memorial fundraiser, see that we've also done some of the same races (Veteran's Memorial Tollway, Cantigny). Like the blog!