A Little Competition Never Hurt Anyone
Highlights from the December Trail Runner Blog Symposium
The December 2013 Trail Runner Blog Symposium topic was: Is too much emphasis being placed on competitive results in the sport?
There were plenty of great thoughts expressed, as always, on both sides of the issue. Our Editors’ Choice, "Scary Fast Trail Runners,” by Jake Wyatt, argues that though front runners in races may indeed be getting more attention than ever, ultimately most runners' focus is still centered on competing against themselves and their own expectations.
Stay tuned to Inside Dirt for next month’s topic!
I suspect that the typical trail runner talks about the performances of the best in the sport in the same way that amateur golfers or tennis players might talk about the performances of Tiger Woods or Serena Williams. Sure, we’re participating in the same sport as the top athletes, but we know that how the pros perform doesn’t really affect our performance within or enjoyment of that sport.
—Jake Wyatt, Sometimes I Run
Every time I glance down at my GPS to check my average pace I am also closing down my ability to appreciate my surroundings. When I pay more attention to the footfalls of the guy catching me up, I am also paying less attention to the summer blossoms or fall colors that line both sides of my trail.
—Matt Thyer, FeetForBrains
In my mind there is the ‘sport’ of trail running, and there is the ‘practice’ of trail running. While the ‘sport’ certainly receives the lion share of attention, it’s the ‘practice’ that I’m more drawn to. I’m not alone. I found it quite refreshing when, just last weekend, I ran with two friends and none of us had any races planned for 2014. My friend Jay shared, “I run for the training and get what I need from that. The guys who impress me most are the guys that come out all the time and just run trails.”
—Ben Luedke, Running the Cascades
All of a sudden I find myself feeling insignificant because I haven’t run 100 miles yet, then it’ll be 150, then 200. In some respects I think this energy and attitude in the scene is healthy in that it certainly pushes the envelope and breeds spirited competition, but can’t help but think where I will eventually draw the line between a challenging personal journey and extreme, possibly dangerous masochism.
—Adam Blea, Diary of a Trail Runner
Most of us get on the trail for numerous reasons that have little of nothing to do with competition. We use races as a tool, they motivate us to increase mileage and to get out there day after day whether there is rain or shine. They help us maintain a community in a very individual oriented sport.
—Kali Kirkendall, Camp Fancy Free
The front of the pack runners amaze and inspire me, but the at-large community and their participation in this grass-root sport can’t get lost in the shuffle. We are out here and want to achieve too … our goals and the ending competitive results are just a little more grounded than others.
—Geoff Spakes, Primal Run Geek
In high school my track coach’s motto was a famous Pre-quote, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” I know this sticks with me, and is at the heart of many other runners’ drive to race, and be competitive. It is a gift that many of us have a love and ability to run, and with that, the drive to do well usually follows.
—Rachel Kelley, Trail (Wisp)erings
We are conditioned every day to work for and strive for results, in every day home and work life. We might think that we don’t conform to that mold, but in reality most of us do. While some of us might have ideas of freedom and grandiose in the mountains and trails, deep down we know that we need to be able to quantify those desires.
—Emir Dedic, Japod Runner
In my mind, if you are not able to have competition in a sport, it cannot be truly defined as a sport. Despite the happy-go-lucky persona that surrounds the trail community, the drive to win and a stiff competitor are not ruining the sport, but validating the sport itself.
—Jessica Kuepfer, Laces and Lattes
Is too much emphasis being placed on competitive results in the sport? No. That emphasis happens organically. It happens with or without out contrived influence from the business/advertising/sponsorship side of trail running. It’s human nature to push the pace.
—Steve Murphy, Good Chemistry