The American dream is the ideal that everyone should have an equal opportunity to achieve success through hard work, determination, and initiative. Many times, a dream of success involves being part of the prosperous “1 percent.” But there is another group that's even smaller than the “1 percent,” a group that achieves a different kind of success through the same American values of hard work, determination, and initiative.
They're called marathoners.
Whenever you call roll and the list includes less than 1 percent of the population, you're dealing with a pretty exclusive club. By numbers alone, then, marathoners are a unique group of people.
That’s why, when you decide to run a marathon, some people will think you are a lunatic. Some people will watch only to see (what they presume will be) an inevitable train wreck. (Because marathoners are crazy, right?) Others will watch your every move because they want to see you succeed and be a part of that success. But no matter who is looking on as you train for your marathon, don’t let the naysayers burst your bubble. You are that 1 percent. You are an inspiration that erases excuses. You can inspire others to follow your lead.
We all have a list of people who inspire us, those who conquer whatever life throws at them. You need to be aware that as a marathoner you may be that person to others and, therefore, may be held to a high standard. Just as professional athletes are held under a microscope, you may find your own actions scrutinized by those around you. Praised for your dedication, you may find yourself in the unexpected position of role model. Take it in stride! You have a tremendous opportunity to show people how distance sport can grow character and produce quality individuals.
Your decision to complete a marathon just may have a butterfly effect. The miles of training unveil a strength of will and a depth of character that many of us never knew we had. Work ethic and resolve shine and transform us not only as runners, but as coworkers, friends, and members of our families.
In the movie Coach Carter, Timo Cruz paraphrases Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us: it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Life is not linear. It is a never-ending roller coaster. Inspirational people are rarely those who always win: they are often those who fall only to rebound higher than before. It is that “badger tough” attitude marathoners discover that allows them to accomplish things that others only dream of. Whether this is your first attempt or your fifty-first, you are an inspiration—to yourself and to others. Become part of an exclusive club. Run to inspire. Be the 1 percent.
Tim Cary is Fleet Feet's Assistant Training Manager and coach of the Fleet Feet-sponsored Runnababez Elite team. Over his more than two decades of coaching, Tim has coached athletes to three national team championships, five national individual championships, two national records, and numerous All-American and All-State honors. Click here to receive Tim's weekly article via email.