Closing the Gap on Your Standards

A couple of weeks ago I beat my personal record for running my 2 mile loop around the nearby countryside. I call the run The Mad Dog with respect to the many canine egos that I have to manage on the way. This particular running session in question was different than the others because it was my first sincere attempt at beating my best overall time of 14 minutes, 59 seconds, and because I had actually lengthened the run a small fraction of its original length to augment its scenic viewing opportunities.

Racing against time when you are alone is a lot different than racing side-by-side with a competitor because your personal motivation is called into question every step of the way. No one is watching. No one is there to rub the agony of defeat in your face if your don’t succeed. You alone must choose the pace that you think is best.

While I ran I thought about these things.  I stayed focused on how much I pushed myself the previous times so I would know how much harder I needed to run. It’s not as though I were slacking off on previous attempts. I was actually pushing myself quite hard. The difference was that this particular time, having no one with whom I could compare myself and no clock to monitor my progress, I simply clung to my focus on destroying my previous standards.

Everyone has standards - on our level of success, happiness, craftsmanship, musicianship...

When I had reached my self imposed finished line I stopped and viewed a finishing time of 13 minutes and 59 seconds. I was more tired than I could ever remember being.

The remarkable thing that inspired this thought today was that this struggle and the fatigue that I incurred on that jaunt around The Mad Dog was only to finish 1 minute faster.

The fastest two miles on record is 7:58:61.

If gaining 1 minute was this painful, it made me wonder how much work it would be to cut that run down 5 more minutes. I would probably never be able to do it, but that’s not the point.


We all have standards. Are you meeting them? If not, are you willing to accept the changes that have to happen to set your new standard?

I just returned from another running session. It was relaxed and I didn’t even bring my stopwatch.

Success is hard to live up to.