Wednesday, October 2, 2013

To Race, or Not To Race

A couple of weeks ago there was an article in the Wall Street Journal ("The Slowest Generation") that argued the younger generation of athletes is getting slower and cares less about athletic achievement and competition.

Thanks to the Internet, this article made the rounds pretty quick, and my reaction was like that of many, which is to say I agreed with it.

Yesterday another article was brought to my attention (credit to Alyssa Godesky for the tweet) from Outside Magazine ("We Are Not the Slowest Generation") which was in direct response to the WSJ piece - except it was more substantial.

In this article, the author's premise was that, for Baby Boomers, the marathon was their only racing option. And it's true - during the running boom of the 1970s there simply wasn't the number, or diversity, of events to choose from as there is today. There wasn't a weekly 5k in the park; it was all about the marathon.

In today's world, we have considerably more choices when it comes to competing and challenging ourselves.

It's a topic we talk about ad nauseam on our runs, often complaining about how less competitive races are today and how the rise of gimmick theme runs are taking away from the purity of our sport. I'm as guilty as anyone. While I certainly don't support these events, one thing I'm trying to work on is remembering that I can only control myself and what I do.

Sport and business: if there's a market for something, the market efficiency should take advantage and supply it to those willing to pay. When that demand drops, the market will work itself out. As we've done for years, we know that the only thing we ever need is a start and a finish line, a distance, and people to compete against. That will never change.

If you haven't read the Outside article, take the few minutes to do so. I'll say that neither piece is 100% right, or 100% wrong, just that they're positioned differently. If you want to explore a new challenge, you have that ability today. You're not pigeonholed to the marathon. Who cares if marathon times have gotten slower over the last 30 years? Should that stop you from trying to run your fastest marathon? And if you want to do a triathlon, or a trail race, or a Tough Mudder or even just try and set a personal best on a route you run - you can do it! There are so many avenues to challenge yourself, just do something. Most importantly, do it because you want to do it.

There's no rule that says you have to run marathons to consider yourself a runner. Just like you don't have to do an Ironman to be considered a triathlete, or be "fast" to be considered a miler. We say it every year at Awards Night - set goals for yourself that you want to see yourself accomplish. Nobody can judge them, they're your goals.

Whatever you do, do it with passion!