• He's been called the Pied Piper of the Second Running Boom. Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham looked mid-life in the face—and started running.

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Run simply, or simply run

miraculixI’ve known Thom Gilligan, the driving force behind Marathon Tours and Travel [Marathon Tours] since I first went with him to Antarctica in 2001. Since then, I’ve traveled with him as a part of his staff 6 times. Thom is an old-school, hide-bound, Greater Boston Track Club singlet, nylon shorts runner. There’s no doubt that the drive that has made his company so successful was there – and is still there – in his running.

We were chatting at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Expo this past weekend when he said that, if you didn’t know better, you would think that running was a very complicated, technically challenging, equipment dependent, injury producing activity. There were aisles of booths selling everything from the latest shoes and apparel to the newest fad, to the injury prevention devices, recovery tools, and bars, liquids, and creams the promised to make you faster, more beautiful, and smarter.

He’s right. If you didn’t know any better you would think that ALL of those things were necessary in order to be a runner. You’d believe that with the right shoes, the right pre-race drink, the right energy replacement fluid, and the right recovery concoction you can be the runner you want to be – or dream of being.

Well, kids, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. There’s no secret to it. The way to be a better runner – or walker – [or cellist or carpenter or anything else] is to work at being better at it. As one of my education professors explained it in regard to curriculum design, “Children learn what they do, and damn little else.”

I suppose we’d all like to find a short cut to success. After all, when was the last time you dialed the phone number of someone you call often? We live in a world where it’s possible to get things faster, make things better, and live more comfortably with nothing more than the push of a button. Don’t get me wrong. I like this world.

For me, though, one of the real attractions to running was the fact that there were no shortcuts. There were no magic potions. There wasn’t some piece of equipment that I could buy that would suddenly change me from a 12 minute miler to a 6 minute miler.

Runner_-_Cartoon_5For me to accomplish my goals I had to work for them. When I wanted to run a marathon I had to gradually increase my long runs until I was running farther than I ever thought I could. When – for a very short time – I wanted to run faster, I had to go to the track and run intervals and repeats. With time and dedication I was able to run marathons and, for me, run faster.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with all the wonderful products that are out there. I’m a firm believer that if you THINK something works for you, it does. I’ve got my favorite shoes and socks. My favorite workouts and my favorite pieces of equipment. I wouldn’t give them up even if you TOLD me they didn’t help.

But I am saying be honest with yourself. The key – the only key – to whatever your goals are is training.

Waddle on, friends.

John

new_alaskalogoJoin Coach Jenny and I next summer for the adventure of a lifetime.

The Great Alaskan Running Cruise

Flashback Friday: Prized Possessions

Note the date. November of 2000. I talk about having run 20 marathons. I’ve run 45 now and I still feel the same way.

November 2000

Prized Possessions

marathon-medalsThe monuments to my childhood were all over my parent’s house: a plaster cast of my hand, the Valentine’s card I made. My home is filled with similar monuments to my son’s childhood: a wreath made of rotini pasta that hangs on the door every Christmas, the rock on which felt feet, head, and tail are glued in a shape that looks–if you have imagination–very much like a turtle. They are prized possessions.

My home is also filled with monuments of my return to childhood, to a time of play and joy: finisher’s medals and photos, race t-shirts, a second place trophy from a duathlon where only two males competed in the 45-49 age group. These too are prized possessions.

I’m always interested in what other runners do with their medals. Some display them ceremoniously in glass-covered cases with their race number, shirt and photo. I don’t know how these people do it! How do they find the time?

My medals are looped over the bedroom doorknob. Why? Because that’s where I put them as I unpack after a race weekend. I come home, empty the suitcase, and hang the medal on the doorknob. Unceremonious? Maybe. But as the number has increased, the medals have become sort of like a wind chime. Most of the time I don’t notice them, but when I move the door, their clanging together reminds me of how much I have accomplished.

After completing over twenty marathons, the ribbons are so thick that it’s impossible to turn the doorknob. I’ve had to start hanging the medals on both sides of the knob. Their weight makes me worry about the strength of the door hinges. The last thing I want is the door crashing to the ground in the middle of the night!

Recently I was asked if, after so many marathons, it gets any easier to run one. It may for some, but not for me. Sure, I understand the distance better, I know not to blast off in the early miles, I recognize the brain fade in the middle miles, and I’m not surprised by the fatigue in the later miles. But, like cats, no two marathons are ever exactly the same. And the lessons learned in one may be of no use whatever in the next.

My medals remind me of the humility required to run marathons. My first was in 1993 in Columbus, Ohio. That day was nearly perfect. With only a 15 mile training run, I started the race with a protective naiveté that I’ve never had since. I didn’t know that I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t know what to expect, and I had no particular plan. It is still my fourth fastest marathon.

I see the medals from Chicago and Marine Corps in 1997, the “year of the double,” when I ran the two races on consecutive weekends. The idealach-half-medal of running two marathons in two weeks ranks very high on the list of “stupid Penguin tricks.”  What’s most interesting, in retrospect, is that I ran the fastest 10K of the two races at the end of the second marathon. By then I was tired of running and just wanted it to be over.

Then there are the medals from London for 1998, 1999, and 2000. It’s the only race I’ve completed three times, the one that has the most emotional connections for me. I’ve always run London with a combination of joy and sorrow. The medals from the half marathon in Florence, Italy, are hanging there too.  Firenze is where I learned how good a banana and hot tea can taste during a race, and just how lost you can get when you lose sight of the runners in front of you and can’t speak the language.

That doorknob holds memories of the good and the bad days, of people who brought great inspiration into my life and then faded away. There are memories of cities and streets and steps taken toward a finish line that never really seems to be the end.

Sometimes I think my medals deserve a place of greater distinction. I think I should display them where others can see them. Then I remember why I wanted those medals in the first place. I wanted them not to show to anyone else, but as reminders of my own journey as a runner and as a person.

Like my son’s rotini wreath, I will prize them not for what they are, but for what they mean to me.

Waddle on, friends.

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Flashback Friday: Survival of the Slowest

Survival of the slowest

john_125x125We. The few, the proud, the plodding.

Steven Pinker, in “The Language Instinct“, suggests that if language didn’t exist, people would be so driven to communicate that they would create a language. So strong is our instinct toward communication that there are almost no recorded instances of groups of people who have not developed a means of talking to one another.

Surely our ancestors had a running instinct as well. It’s hard to imagine a community of humans that would not have included runners. Some, though, then as now, were just a little slower than others.

The evidence of this instinct can be seen in children. Children seem content to simply run. Often they aren’t running to or from anything. They just run. For children, the act of running brings such pleasure that they don’t, or won’t, stop.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a reason why some adults have lost the joy in their instinctive running, look no further than childhood. How many times are children told not to run? In how many paces are they not allowed to run?

Worse yet, for some children running becomes a form of punishment, as it did for me. In my high school, when you misbehaved in gym class, you were sentenced to run laps. Is it any wonder that my running instinct was buried?

When I am asked now why I started running after 40 years of sedentary confinement, I answer that running is in my genes. Somewhere in my genetic makeup is the DNA residue of great hunters and bold warriors and fleet messengers. When I dig deep enough into my soul, I am connected directly to those who ran for their lives.

I’m sure that great runners throughout history were revered for their skill and speed. I’m not convinced, though, that all of my running ancestors were gifted. I’m sure there were Penguins even then!

Had I been alive in prehistoric times, I suspect that the members of my tribe would not have selected me to chase down dinner. Given my ability to run, it’s far more likely that I would have ended up as some other animal’s dinner.

But my limited talent doesn’t mean I can’t, or shouldn’t, run. More importantly, it doesn’t mean that I’m not a runner. My terminal velocity relative to that of others of my age and gender is the result of the decisions I have made over the course of my life.

What is often misunderstood about those of us struggling to reach the front of the back of the pack is that we really are trying. We really are, at whatever our pace, doing the best we can. Some runners, and even well-meaning non-runners, interpret our position in the pack as a measure of our effort. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We – the few, the proud, the plodding – very often train as much as, or more than, faster runners. At a blistering 12-minute pace, a 20-mile week represents a major time commitment. I do speed work and tempo runs. I do long, slow runs. I just do them very slowly.

It’s not a matter of trying. It’s not a matter of motivation. It’s just a matter of speed. A fast runner friend of mine put it succinctly when I asked him what he thought was the limiting factor in my running future. His answer was as insightful as it was concise: “Maybe you’re just slow!”

And slow I may be. But I am the best athlete I know how to be. I am the best runner I know how to be. Every day is an opportunity to improve. Every time I run, I try to be better. I have given in to my running instinct. I have given in to this passion to uncover the primal joy in running. And I hope you will, too.

Waddle on, friends.

Back to The Penguin Chronicles Archive

High Five’n the Mermaid

mermaid_43yellowI was standing at the finish line of the RnR Providence Half Marathon this past Sunday, doing my best to congratulate those coming to the line when I looked up, and, about 50 yards from the finish line there was a guy holding an inflatable mermaid over the fence. My curiosity got the best of me and I walked down to see what was going on. It was, simply, a guy with a 3-foot tall inflatable mermaid.

When I asked him what he was doing he said he was just trying to get people to High-Five the Mermaid. That’s all. He didn’t have an agenda or a program or a position. He just wanted people to high-five the mermaid.

I thought I’d seen everything at finish lines. I’ve seen the good – proposals, teary-eyed finger-pointing to heaven, abject joy – and the bad – vomiting, slow, painful walks, and abject dejection – but I’ve never seen anything that put a smile on my face like the idea that as one finishes, one should high-five the mermaid.

There are lots of reasons why people choose to start marathons and half marathons. For some it is a bucket-list item. For others it is a celebration of a new life, or the end of an old one. For still others it is a social event shared with friends. And for a few, it is a solitary experience whose meaning is known only to them.

For many participants, the reason to start is to challenge themselves to achieve a goal, whether that is to complete the distance or to run and walk it in a certain time. From the instant they cross the start line – from the instant any of us cross the start line – we are on the journey from where we were to where we want to be. Success or failure lie hidden in the miles before us.

There are lots of reasons to start, but there’s only one reason to finish. That reason: to bring to completion the events of the day – good, bad, or in between. Whatever the circumstances were that brought us to the start, nothing is settled until we cross the finish line.

I think we need to add a new expression to the running lexicon. I think when someone asks us how we did we should just say “I high-fived the mermaid.” It doesn’t reflect a time. It doesn’t indicate whether you met your goal or missed it. It doesn’t give a clue as to how you feel about the day. It just says you finished.

In the end, that’s all that matters. Training gets you to the start line. Character gets you to the finish. And when it’s all said and done, what could be better than high-five’n the mermaid.

Waddle on, friends.

John

For more wit and wisdom, go to www.johnbingham.com

Worst Parade Ever

925_1 Of all the signs I’ve seen while running marathons and half marathons my favorite has to be “Worst Parade Ever.” That just seems to sum up what it must look like to someone standing on the sidelines watching thousands of people – young, old, tall, short, thin, not-so-thin – running and walking for hours on end. Even if you’re waiting for a friend or love one to pass by it has to be mind-numbing to see so many people pounding the pavement.

One of my favorite signs, which I saw many years ago at the Portland [OR] Marathon was “GO GAMMY GO.” My guess is that the young girl that was holding that sign is probably a runner herself by now. After all, if Gammy can run a marathon then she was almost certainly inspired to do one herself.

Of course, we’ve all heard the never helpful “You’re almost there.” This is especially not helpful at, say, mile 15 of a marathon. And then there’s the almost always incorrect “You’re looking good.” I’m not being critical. I know that people are just trying to be nice.

Once, at about the 6K mark of an 8K along the Chicago lakefront, a passer-by yelled out to me “PICK IT UP.” What they didn’t know, and couldn’t have known was that I WAS picking it up. I had already begun my blistering finishing kick. It’s just that when picking it up means going from a 12 minute pace to an 11:45 pace it may not be all that obvious.

Races look very different when you’re on the course. What may seem to the casual observer as an unhurried jog may be – in fact – a dual to the death. I’ve spent miles with a laser focus on a person in lime-green shorts because I absolutely did not want to look at those shorts anymore. Passing them became the single most important thing in my life.

925_2As a run/walker I’ve often been in a leap-frog battle with someone who insists on “running” the whole way – even if their running is mostly just moving their arms in a running motion while they walk. I’ll pass them when i run. They’ll pass me when I walk. And this can go on for miles until i either move far enough ahead during a run interval that they don’t catch me or THEY move far enough ahead during my walk interval that I don’t catch them.

Either way, I sure that anyone watching us go past would have no idea what was going on. And that’s OK. In the long run – pun intended – what matters most is what’s happening between and among those of us on the course, whether that’s an elaborate winning strategy or simply trying to get past the guy wearing the lobster hat.

Once we cross the start line we are in our own world. What matters most is – for many of us – what matters least. We know that once we cross the finish line we will have to go back to our real responsibilities: as husbands, fathers, employees, students, or one of a hundred other identities that we have. When we cross the finish line we go back to being who we are.

But out on the course we are who we want to be. We are heroes. and champions, and warriors. We are strong. We are prepared. We are ready to battle the course, the day, the runners around us, and ourselves.

They may be the worst parades ever, but there’s no place in the world I’d rather be.

Waddle on, friends.

John

FLashback Friday: My Hero. Bob Dolphin

What’s even MORE amazing is that I want back to celebrate Bob’s 500th in 2012.

The transformative powers of running apply at any age.

bobdolphinLast April, I went to the Yakima River Canyon Marathon, a point-to-point race from Ellensburg to Selah, Washington. I was there to help 77-year-old Bob Dolphin celebrate the completion of his 400th marathon.

You read that right. A 77-year-old doing his 400th marathon, with Yakima being the 24th marathon Bob had run in the past 12 months. Perhaps even more amazing is that Bob didn’t run his first marathon until he was in his mid-50s.

Joining me in the celebration were members of the 50 States and DC Marathon Club, the 100-Marathon Club, the Marathon Maniacs, and Bob’s local running friends from the Hard Core Runners Club – clearly not your average group of midpackers. To put this particular gathering into perspective, at one table at the pasta party there were six men who had run a combined total of almost 2,000 marathons. You read that right, too. One table. Six men. Nearly 2,000 marathons.

Even though I’ve run 30 to 40 marathons, I didn’t really fit in with the celebrants. And these folks don’t just run marathons either. As often as not, they hit the lap button on their watches at 26.2 miles and continue on to complete 50-, 60-, or 100-mile distances – every few weeks. No, these men and women are at the far edges of our sport. And they all came to honor Bob for the way he’s lived his life both on and off the roads.

A high school dropout turned Marine officer, Bob has never let age or hardship deter him from anything. The same week his daughter graduated from high school, Bob received his college diploma after years of part-time study while working and raising his family. Still eager to learn, Bob ultimately earned a Ph.D. in entomology.

As with his studies, Bob couldn’t get enough of running once he got started. Like many adult-onset athletes, he initially viewed running simply as something to try. But then he found he could continue to redefine himself through running. For Bob, and I’d bet for many of his multimarathoning compatriots as well, every mile answered questions about courage, strength, hopes, and limits, but others remained that could only be answered with another mile, and ultimately, another marathon. Even with 399 marathons under his belt, Bob still had more answers to run down.

This became clear when I asked Bob if he thought he’d take some time off to savor his 400th marathon. “No,” he said. “I’ll probably run number 401 next weekend.” He went on to explain that he was hoping to run about 20 marathons per year so that he could run his 500th on this course again in 2012.

If he does, I hope I’m there. I hope I’m there to see him run into the arms of his wife, Lenore (who’s been at the finish line of every one of Bob’s races). And if I am, I’ll know full well that 500, like 400, will be a milepost, not a destination.

Waddle on, Bob.

Back to The Penguin Chronicles Archive

Unintended Consequences

blog-unintended-consequencesUnintended consequences can be roughly grouped into three types:

* A positive, unexpected benefit

 * A negative, unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect 

 * A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when a solution makes a problem worse)

It may be hard to believe but getting active – running, walking, bicycling – was filled with unintended consequences for me. And, to be honest, there were positive, negative, and even some perverse effects of starting to live a healthy, active lifestyle.

As I’ve written, for me there wasn’t some blinding epiphany. I didn’t have a heart attack, or some other dramatic medical event that convinced me that I needed to change. I wasn’t miserable or depressed or even marginally unhappy. It’s hard to be unhappy when your happiness lies in the next cigarette or beer or cheese danish.

At 43 years-old, my life, like so many other lives, had been a mix of successes and failures in nearly equal measure. I had had, and lost or left, good jobs and bad jobs, good relationships and bad relationships, and moments of pure joy and abject sorrow. You know, a normal life.

All of this was happening in the context of sitting still. Even at my most active, riding the motorcycles that I loved so dearly, I was still sitting still. I sat still when I worked, I sat still when I played, I even sat still on the garden tractor when I mowed the lawn. You see, activity and movement were not a part of my life and when forced to move, say to shovel snow from the driveway, I did it reluctantly and with great complaining.

Unlike many people I meet, I did NOT start running in order to lose weight. I started running to be able to run. I didn’t know how far I wanted to run, or how fast I wanted to run. I just knew that I wanted to run. Being as overweight as I was my desire did not match up with my ability so I did a lot more walking than running. It didn’t matter. The goal was to be able to run and walking was a way to reach that goal.

oops

I figured out pretty quickly that being over-weight and running weren’t especially compatible. I made the decision to lose weight because I wanted to be a better runner. It’s an important distinction because so many people start running in order to lose weight only to discover that they start gaining weight. This is especially true when new runners start a long distance training program, say for a half or full marathon.

I also didn’t quit smoking when I started to run. It was much later that I concluded that I could improve my 5K time by not smoking as much. I eventually quit smoking all together because it no longer provided the pleasure it once did because it had a negative effect on my running.

The intended consequence was to become a runner. The positive unintended consequence was that I became a thinner, non-smoker who made better choices about what – and more importantly – how much I ate.

The negative unintended consequence was overuse injuries. Plantar Faciitis, IT Band Syndrome, inflamed bursa in my hips to name just a few. I thought to get good at running you had to do lots and lots of running. I read books about elite runners putting in over a hundred miles a week. I didn’t expect to be elite, but I thought I could train like one.

And that led to the perverse unintended consequence which was, indeed, contrary to what was originally intended. By running too much I eventually couldn’t run at all.

Becoming an adult-onset athlete is tricky business. At first the movement, any movement, feels awkward and unnatural. It doesn’t feel good but we convince ourselves it’s doing some good. The aches and pains and injuries, we tell ourselves, are the admission price to living as an athlete. It’s only later that we learn that they’re not.

The danger is that in doing what we want to do we will find ourselves not being able to do it.

Waddle on, friends.

Read more at: JohnBingham.com

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Stuck on a Desert Island

islandNormally, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll expos, I do the interviewing. I’ve chatted with many of the greatest runners of all time, from World Record holders, to Olympians, to past, present, and future super stars of our industry. This weekend in at the RnR Seattle Expo, my good friend and colleague Ian Brooks turned the tables on me and I was the one in the hot seat, being interviewed.

Ian Brooks is one of the most experienced and accomplished “voices” in the running industry. More than me, he’s had the chance to question athletes at every point of their careers from budding young high school phenoms to fading icons. Being on stage with him is not to be taken lightly.

After the usual give-and-take, “why do they call you the Penguin?” [I saw a reflection of myself in a store front window and I looked like a penguin, not a gazelle] “what motivated you to change your life at 43 years-old” [there’s no great answer other than that I was successful and miserable] and “how have you managed to come up with new column ideas for 18 years” [nearly every day I encounter someone or something that inspires or interests me and I just try to pass it on] he hit me with the BIG one.  He asked me what music, piece of literature, and person would I want with me on a deserted island.

The music was very easy. I would take a recording of the nine Beethoven Symphonies. If I had a choice, I’d take the Leonard Bernstein recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, but almost any recording would do. The transformation of Beethoven from Classical composer to Romantic giant can be easily traced through the symphonies. I’ve taken walks of 3 to 4 hours and listened to as many of the symphonies as I can.

duck_island_6227The piece of literature would be the Bible. It’s not for religious reasons that I make that choice. I’m not advocating any particular belief system. The Bible, in one form or another, has survived as literature for thousands of years. I think I could spend a long time trying to understand the nuances of the lessons contained in the Bible.

And the person? Steve Jobs. And the first question I’d ask him is what he had planned for the next 20 years or so. When I travel with my iPhone and iPad and MacBook Air I think about how much Steve Jobs changed the world. Or, my world at least. I would like to be able to talk about his dream of a world that we now won’t ever see.

Ian said he was surprised by the answers. I’m not sure why. Maybe he thought I’d come up with a Neil Diamond collection, a Steven King novel, and some historical beauty. Those things might be interesting for a short time, but, what I’ve learned is that for something, or someone, to be interesting for a lifetime they have to a a depth that can never be fully explored.

Which, as it turns out, is why I lace up my running shoes every day. I’m no closer to the answer of the mystery of why it feels so good to move my body with my own two feet than I was the first day I ran.

Waddle on, friends.

John

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UPDATE: I’ve moved through the historical and on to the more entertaining book. Funny thing, I find myself wanting to download more informational – or dare I say – educational books. Good stuff. For more information on Audible Click Here

Come Sail Away

blog_ketchRunners and walkers want to experience the world with their your own two feet.

Jenny and I have listened to what you want and have created vacations that allow you to get away from it all with a group of friends who understand who you are. Whether you are young or old, a new walker or a life-long runner you will find yourself at home, comfortable, and welcomed.

In Alaska you’ll see the Last Frontier up close. No riding in tour buses and looking out the windows. You will be right there seeing and feeling the REAL Alaska.

The Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise is a once in a lifetime opportunity to share the unique beauty of Alaska. For more detail, check out Will and Sunny’s blog. For more information, or to book the trip: The Alaskan Vacation.

fb_caibgroupLooking for some sunshine, crystal clear water, and white sand beaches in the middle of winter? Want to experience it all with like-minded, active people. We’ve got the trip for you.

An all new itinerary for 2014 will take us to Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. You’ll explore the Caribbean, you’ll run or walk in some of the most enchanting places on earth, and you’ll do it friends.

For more information, or to book the trip: The Caribbean Vacation

The best part of both of these vacations is that the Ships serve as hotel, restaurant, and transportatiojohncaribn. You unpack ONE time and spend the rest of the week enjoying all that the journey has to offer.

These are truly special trips. If you’ve been on one, you know. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to see why these have become some of the most popular active vacations in the world.

For more information, contact Mila at The Cruise Authority or me, John “the Penguin” Bingham

I’ll see you on the Lido Deck…

A Champion: By Definition

rnr team startThe Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in San Diego is the original, and in many ways is still the signature event of the RnR Series. I’ve been there every year it’s been held so my history and the event’s history run in parallel.

Since it’s in San Diego the stars of the running community tend to come out. This weekend I was on stage with Jim Ryun, Rod Dixon, Steve Scott, Meb Keflezighi, Josh Cox, and Deena Kastor. Talk about an all-star line up.

The Sub-4 Seminar with Jim Ryun, first high-schooler to run a sub-4 marathon and STILL the only high school junior to ever run under 4 minutes, Steve Scott, who has run more sub-4 minute miles [136] than anyone in history, and Rod Dixon, who has run 53 sub-4 minute miles and – oh by the way – later won the New York City Marathon was fascinating.

I asked the each to describe how they would have raced – and beaten – the others if they could have raced at the height of their careers. It turns out that Dixon was a strength runner and would have pushed the pace early to gain an advantage, Ryun had an amazing 400 meter kick and felt that if he was close he could go by on the last lap, and Scott was just really, REALLY good at racing the mile.

Meb is moving back to San Diego, from Mammoth, to be closer to family and to co-own running specialty stores in the city. He also didn’t competely dismiss the idea of another shot at an Olympic team.

Josh is – well – Josh. He is one of the brightest, most affable athletes I have even known. He gives great information in a way that easily understood by the average athlete. It’s always fun to sit on stage with him.

deena_kastor_london

But it was Deena that left me with a thought that will haunt and inspire me for some time. She told the story of  her coach telling her before a big race to simply “define yourself.” Define yourself. What a formidable task, for a runner and for an individual.

How do we define ourselves in small and large ways every day? Are we impatient with people? Are we impatient with ourselves. Are we forgiving? Do we ask more of ourselves than is necessary. Do we care, love, cherish the people who care for, love, and cherish us.

I know that the original context for Deena was that particular race. In talking to her, though, it became obvious that she has reflected on the question on her life as a woman, a wife, a mother, and an athlete.

Too often, I think, we tend to see great athletes like Deena as being only that; an athlete. What I learned from Deena is that whether we are at a starting line, deep into a difficult race, or standing in line at the grocery store, we have the opportunity all day, every day, to define ourselves.

And that knowledge, more than talent and dedication and speed, is what makes Deena Kastor a champion.

Waddle on, friends.

John

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UPDATE: I should have known. As I said, it’s like the first microwave. Now that I have books to listen to, guess what? I listen to them every chance I get. I listened on the plane flying to San Diego – and back. I listen while I was relaxing after the race. I even listened while I was falling asleep – which – is VERY cool to have someone read you a bedtime story when you’re 64 years old.

You can get more information at:  Audible.com

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