It’s Cross Country running season. I’m an archetypal middle-of-the-pack runner when it comes to the East Sussex Fitness League, the competition that Wadhurst Runners, my running club participate in. I’m almost always around half way, not sure if my effort is going to be included in the club score. So my motivation for a strong effort of trudging through the mud has to come from elsewhere.
If you know you are not going to ‘win’, or for your effort to even ‘count’, where does the motivation come from? Set achievable goals and for the vast majority of us that’s the target – our own PB. It’s all relative.
The slowest ten in the fitness league in the muddy fields of Sussex probably knew before the start that the best they could hope was not to finish last – no one wants to be the ‘Lanterne Rouge’. Yet races are reliant on the fact that someone is prepared to finish in that final place – or at least to enter the race knowing that last is a possibility.
A young friend of ours once ashamedly reported to us that she received the “clap of shame” after exiting the pool last in a youth aquathlon – she actually did quite well on the run, but the well-meaning spectators who enthusiastically applauded her had no idea she would have rather slipped out of the building anonymously.
So we salute all of you (us) who toe the line from time to time; the masses, the age-groupers, middle-of-the-packers and the no hopers who make the ‘winning’ possible for the small minority. We aspire to achieve our own PBs and gradually move through the pack – and each time we lace up our shoes or mount our bike, or step onto the pitch, we are the essence of what makes grass-roots sport possible in the first place.