Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Honest Effort

In a perfect world, sport would be the gold standard, of earning a deserved reward for an honest effort.  We give our all and if it's the best effort, on the field that day, then we are champions. In that perfect world no one would use performance enhancing drugs and there would be no cutting the course short.

The world isn't perfect and one way sport is a gold standard is in making us face your own character.  Honest effort is a personal decision and it's often made in the moment and not planned.  I have done marathons that have an out and back course.  It would be so easy, during a long race, to stop for a minute and tie your shoe or go in the Porta John and come out going the other way, shorting your distance by miles.  I have seen people do that very thing.

The whole idea and indeed the reward, for finishing, is the personal satisfaction, that you were stronger than the distance.  There is no shame when you gave it your all and came up short.  There is no shame is getting on the sweep bus.  Your time on that bus should be spent in getting mentally stronger and making a vow to train better, so you can go after it again.  When you hurt something, again there is no shame, you may be mad but you can still hold your head high.

Someone who cuts the course short, in a race, especially if it's just a fun race and you're not a contender, for an award, is to tarnish, what could be a wonderful personal victory.  If you are a contender and you cheat then you need to reevaluate your sense of honor.  Honor, to this old school athlete and warrior, is self respect.  You might get praise for bringing home an award but you left the best part of you back on the course, your honor.

It's so easy, you're getting tired, the distance seems endless and it would be so nice to be done.  Those are the times that we have to be the strongest.  Those really are the times that define us.  I have finished barely putting one foot in front of the other, race walking technique long since forgotten, those are the races that finishing means the most.  When that finisher's medal is placed around my neck, it is for being strong and not giving in, as well as finishing the race.

It would seem then that you only hurt yourself when you cheat in a race.  But that isn't always the case.  If you have friends and or family there then, even if they didn't see you cheat, if you accept their praise, you have betrayed their trust.  Even if they don't know you do.  Every time you are dishonest then you make it easier to be without honor again.  If your friend knows it puts them in a difficult position, they want to be there for you but they don't agree with what you have done.  I've been put in that position before and it's very uncomfortable.

If you can't finish and have to cut it short then be upfront about it and don't say you finished.  You will be respected for being honest as much as you would be for finishing, maybe even more.  But even better dig deep and find the courage to keep going so you can finish.  Forget the time goals and just do it, you will be stronger for it.  Then when you are asked how you did you can say proudly, "Yeah I went the distance".

Thanks for reading.


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