Monday, October 08, 2012


I remember an old saying about how you can tell the character of someone by just playing 1 round of golf with them.  Do they play the ball as it lies or do they kick the ball to give a more favorable shot?  Do they take mulligan after mulligan?  Do they call their own penalties?

The same goes for running.  For about 99% of us, the only person we are competing against is ourselves.  If I do a 5 mile run in 45 minutes but tell people it was in 40 minute, who am I impressing. Any non runner will not know the difference between the two numbers.  Any runner will tell you good job and if you did it in a personal best, they will be very happy for you.  Who do you hurt by lying?  You only hurt yourself. 

In fact, the New York Times just covered this in an article by Amby Burfoot and George A. Hirsch. 

 As amateur marathon runners for nearly 50 years, we were surprised when our sport made headlines recently for an unusual reason.

Last month, The New Yorker published an article on the Michigan dentist Kip Litton, who digitally fabricated an entire marathon and outsmarted computer timing systems. Then Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president, misstated the finish time of his only marathon. He told an interviewer he had run “a 2-hour-and-50-something” marathon when his actual time was 4:01:25. That was roughly equivalent to a golfer’s claiming a 3 handicap when his typical round is 100.

We have rarely encountered tales like Litton’s and Ryan’s. For true distance runners, to lie about time or distance is to lie to ourselves, to diminish the importance of the many sacrifices we make to reach the starting line. Focus and discipline form the core of a runner’s being; they are what make us put on a reflective vest and run six miles into the sleet at 6 on a dark winter morning.

There are no shortcuts to marathon success. Our race performances are sacred, but it is acceptable to refer to a marathon time up to, say, 3:13:59 as a 3:13, or 3:13 and change.

This is why I love running.  Its me against myself.  If I want to run farther or faster or both, I need to work at it.  I can’t fake it.  Shoes, clothes, or food will not make me a better runner. Hard work and discipline will. 

How honest are you when discussing your running?

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