Final Destination

On May 18,2024,

I completed the RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon and what a fun time it was! New York Road Runners are at the top of class as far as putting on events. As a runner, run club officer, and race director, it’s the little things that make a race a memorable experience. I walked away from this race thinking this may have been the BEST race I’ve ever participated in. The bar that I’d set for races was moved. Before this I’d argue that the Chicago Marathon was in that class followed by the Myrtle Beach Half even. Chicago was very well organized, but I didn’t have the best experience for several reasons. Myrtle Beach was organized enough but the experience is what made it special. This isn’t to break down the pros and cons of races, however. We can do that another day. Each race experience was heavily weighed by how well I performed and the feeling of accomplishment I felt after I crossed the various finish lines.

“My Best is Temporary” has been a mantra I’ve lived by for quite some time. I hit a personal best, celebrate it with a ton of social media posts, and then I’m ready for the next “step”. That’s always making my best BETTER or striving to. I take a similar approach to coaching and my professional life as well. With coaching I judge success on whether the runner improved their finish times and at work I focus on the upward trajectory of various key performance indicators. This approach is objective and equally measurable. It’s great when those personal bests happen. I’m learning that there are two sides to this coin. When you achieve that personal best, you’re ready for the next one and when you don’t achieve what you set out for, you can be demoralized and sometimes want to stop all together. That is the problem with the BEST BETTER approach. Its great to celebrate milestones but realize those milestones are simply that MILESTONES, not destinations.

I’ve asked myself what the true differences are between the BEST BETTER approach and the ENDUR approaches are. How does it affect how I train? Do I coach to make someone’s best better, or do I coach them to endure? Professionally do I go for the metric or condition myself to endure the grind?  There isn’t a straightforward answer here. To achieve a particular goal, one must be able to endure some type of process along with the hardships. That’s a certainty. Improvement does not come without effort period. The two will always be intertwined. What if improvement and enduring weren’t the primary factors?

Let’s go back to my favorite races. An organized race I can appreciate because of a variety of factors. Same thing about a well-structured training plan, I can certainly appreciate that. Professionally hitting a key performance metric is great, it even may keep me employed. Organization, structure, and even performance, however, is secondary to the enjoyment of the EXPERIENCE.

My Chicago Marathon produced my first sub-4-hour marathon. I did my own training plan and even had one of my favorite runners achieve a personal best along the way. So much validation as a runner and a coach that day all happening at a World Major. I hit the marks, and the race was super organized and a truly well put together event. The problem was that I didn’t enjoy the complete experience. Then there is Myrtle Beach, a relatively small race to Chicago, the first time was right after the pandemic and in my home state. This was also my first half marathon. I lined up confidently in the front ready to take off. I loved every minute. The next time I came back to run it my Mom was waiting for me at the finish along with the rest of my family. This was one time where I was not only proud of myself but also felt like I had made my mother proud. That trumps any world major.

Today’s milestone was about a personal best, but it also was the first half marathon I would run through Brooklyn. I added another state to my list of places I’ve run a half marathon in. I had two of my favorite runners with me and even watched one overcome herself to achieve a personal best of her own. All of this combined for a memorable experience. This race was special because it was memorable. The result was entirely secondary to the experience I had in Brooklyn completing it with friends.

So, what have I learned? My goal is to open the door for as many positive and memorable experiences as possible for all of those I interact with. This is especially true with run coaching. I want my clients to make memories. Make the run secondary, endure the training long enough to be able to make memories that will last longer than the personal bests. Personal bests are just that, temporary. The experiences will last a lifetime all the way up to the only real final destination. Let’s make them count!