Picture this moment: You’ve just sprinted across the finish line in a sweaty blaze of glory. Your legs are shaking from the effort, but they hold you up just long enough to verify that you did indeed run a personal best. In that moment, you’re on top of the world.
Most runners have experienced a moment like that. String a few together, and you’ve got the ingredients of a rewarding career. But those moments can also be dangerous. Success is the breeding ground for pride, and pride can lead to complacency–or even injury.
If your ego exceeds your ability and you find yourself glossing over your room for improvement, you might be getting a big head.
That begs the question: How does a runner stay humble?
For starters, we need to be honest–with ourselves and with others. No one has flawless training or racing. That’s just how it is. Choosing to be humble by sharing your struggles opens the door for greater improvement and encouragement for everyone.
But as you’re externally processing your running, don’t neglect personal reflection. I find that keeping a training log specifically is very helpful for observing progress and opportunities for growth. When I look back at my training from three years ago, I am reminded of how far I’ve come. Having this perspective also makes me excited for future improvement, based on how I’ve advanced so far.
Ultimately, all the training logs in the world can’t fix a prideful runner. That requires a deeper level of inspiration. Whether one’s inspiration comes from an elite runner or an internal motivator, it’s a necessary part of moving past our own egos.
I say “our” because I’ve been there. There was a time when I thought I was the number one runner to beat; and maybe I was. But that did nothing to soften the blow when I ran my body into the ground and got injured. My ego told me I was unstoppable, but a stress fracture told me otherwise. Lesson learned.
I want to help other runners avoid that painful route to humility, and the way to do it is to recognize that you cannot afford to get lax with your running mentality. Whether you’re in the pits or on a runner’s high, take the time to reassess your strivings for improvement. You are human; you can always improve, and that’s good news–it means there’s more success ahead.
So when you nail that personal best or crush a longstanding goal, savor that sense of accomplishment. Let yourself enjoy the victory! But if you want to experience that moment again, keep setting goals for yourself and looking forward. Most importantly, never forget the benefits of possessing humble confidence.