Running for Time
Running for Time
  • Jared Dittmer / Lecturer of HS
  • 승인 2012.09.26 19:24
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“The world is getting faster, faster.” That is how my high school running coach justified why he, after  achieving  All-American status and competing with Olympians, quit running for more than a decade. Last Sunday (Sep. 16), I finally understood what he meant. Four months and more than 1000 miles of training, 80 seconds shaved off my second best performance of the year, yet I wasn’t able to pull off a victory in the 10 km. The coach I quoted taught me to run to win. I did not win. Disappointing, right?
The problem with this mindset is that many variables, most of which a single participant cannot control, are involved in winning. Had a couple guys decided to go out for dinner instead of running the race, I could have “won.” Had those same guys trained a little less rigorously or consistently, the results might have been different.  Had something they ate disagreed with them, same story.  The point being that regardless of how much (or little) I prepare I cannot be sure what competition will show up, or what condition they will show up in.
Winning can also be deceptive. People tend to assume that a winner performed well. This isn’t always the case, though. I won a 10 km last April. I had only trained for a few weeks, but I finished in about 37:50. The second place runner finished several minutes later.  The victory impressed some of the people watching; they approached me to say things like “Great job!” or “Wow you are really fast. How do you train?” Last Sunday, I finished the 10 km in 34:40, but no one seemed impressed. I received few congratulations or questions about my training regime.  I know which race impressed others, but which race should I be more proud of?
I ask this question because the answer has important implications for one’s approach to life. Being number one is highly-valued in modern society.  Universities and companies want the top student from a graduating class. Students want to go the best university or biggest company.  When evaluating external things, this approach is reasonable and not likely to change.
But, this mindset is dangerous when it is used to judge oneself.  It means I can be pleased with the 95 % I scored on an exam, as long as a classmate didn’t score a 98 %. It means I can be proud of the university I am attending, as long as my cousin is not attending a “better” university. Running, or living, to win allows for very few people to be satisfied.
This mindset also paralyzes. I’ve seen students who speak English quite well withdraw into manner mode if someone who speaks more proficiently enters a given group. It is almost as if they have lost theirprivilege to speak because they are not the best at it. The same is true in a classroom discussion or Karaoke room. People are afraid to answer a question because they think a classmate might have a better answer; people who don’t sing as well as others often don’t want to sing (Super Star K offers clear evidence to the contrary, but I hope you get the point).
Running to win also screws up people’s pace.  “I am going to get to the front and stick with the front runners as long as I can.”This is a common thought a (inexperienced) runner has at the beginning of a race. The disregard of one’s actual ability that accompanies this thought is the problem. In almost every 10 km I have run, I have passed numerous runners somewhere between the 2nd and 6th kilometer.  I don’t pass them because I increase my speed; I pass them because they slow down.  I often see these same runners suffering through the final kilometers of the race. Runners perform much better if they calculate what pace they can maintain and start a race at that pace. A race run at a proper pace is also much more enjoyable.
The biggest danger of a run-to-win mentality, however, is the lack of emphasis on the direction one is moving or the progress one is making.  This mindset allows a bright student in a class of students with average-intelligence to be satisfied with learning nothing but finishing at the head of the class. The mindset also demands that any of the students with average-intelligence, regardless of how much he or she learned or developed, be disappointed with the results of his or her efforts.  
Running for time is the alternative.  I do not worry about how I measure up to others. Rather, while striving to run my best, I draw energy from others who are also striving to do their best. This mindset encourages me to enter tougher competitions because, although I may not win, my time will improve. Running for time means that simply outperforming the competition is not reason enough to be satisfied. It also means I can appreciate and even enjoy the success of others.
I have come to the conclusion that the world will rank me enough. I refuse to rank myself. I run for time and encourage you to do the same.