Runners are getting slower according to an article in the Wall Street Journal and this bothers me immensely. The rationale for the slower times is the everybody gets a medal mentality. There is a quote that stood out more than the others and that is saying something:
“If you’re going to get just as much praise for doing a four-hour marathon as a three-hour, why bother killing yourself training?” asked Robert Johnson, a founder of LetsRun.com, adding that, “It’s hard to do well in a marathon if your idea of a long session is watching season four of ‘The Wire.’”
Have we, as a society, gotten so lazy that we are not willing to work for our results? Or is it that people are happy with the work that they are doing and thus satisfied to say they finished? If the latter is the case then I will say: I DO NOT GET IT AND I DO NOT LIKE IT.
I am a competitive person and when it comes to endurance sports my goal is not to beat you and you and you but rather to be better than I was yesterday. I look at all my data from mile splits to miles covered to race times. Even in a sport like triathlon where comparing one race to another is impossible because of weather and terrain to name a few I still do that. I analyze my effort and report back to my coach how I felt and what I think I can do to improve upon that. What I do not do is say: Well, I finished. Hand me my medal and my t-shirt.
As a matter of fact my medals are hanging on a wall in the garage. Out of sight to everybody unless you are driving one of our cars and pull into the garage. Those medals are representative of the past and it is today and time to work for tomorrow. Why we are celebrating people for a lack of effort blows my mind. Put this idea of getting rewarded for doing something below your ability into a different perspective. How about your job? If you did no work to get better at your job would you be rewarded for it? Nope.
I talk to Karen about this idea of kids getting trophies for finishing 8th in an 8 team league and how that devalues hard work. How that makes a mockery of the competitive spirit of sport. Sport teaches us a lot of different things. Those items include discipline and camaraderie. What it also teaches is leadership and competitiveness. These are all traits that are not specific to sport but are part of life. You have team work at your job that creates camaraderie while also showing you about being disciplined to get your portion of the project done in a timely manner and ahead of the deadline. That team that you are working with will also have a leader while your team is competing against other teams trying to get the project. This is not isolated to sports so to pretend that everybody is a winner is non-sense.
Not everybody is good at sports. Some are great mathematicians. Others are tremendous chefs. Those are the traits that you possess that make you an individual but even in those instances you are working your best to get better and not just taking the day off. I don’t understand that mentality one bit and it drives me crazy to think that this laziness is acceptable.
Before you tell me about parenting and the rest know that I am a step-dad and my step-son is figuring out what he wants to do. He is not pressured to do anything and is presented with opportunities but the one thing that I remind him of on a consistent basis is that lazy does not work. If you are lazy at homework then you will not spell well and thus create poor grades. If you do not work to your ability to calculate math then one day when you pay $100 for a $30 product and get $20 in change you just paid $50 for that item instead of $30. When he chooses to participate in triathlons, which he has done, I tell him that his effort is what matters most and that working as hard as he possibly can will make me prouder of him than him being lazy and winning.
Please also not that if you are a ‘slow’ runner and are working your ass off then so be it. If you are just doing these things to just do them and aren’t giving your best effort then you are cheating yourself and cheating the sport. Remember that this is sports and sports are competitive so if you do not want to be competitive (even with just yourself) then find something else to do because running, triathlon, cycling, swimming and anything involving sports requires that you work and work hard.
There is no substitute for hard work.