Our team's most recent meet, resulting in losses to an extremely talented team, did little to dispel my feelings about our teams' ability. But the overall success of the current Marshfield team did cause me to consider what traits can be found in successful distance runners. And before you presume that this mystery is solved simply through heredity or body type, I believe the focus should be on personality traits. My opinion is that anybody can become a great runner. If they want to be.
I often speak of discipline in runners, but in truth discipline implies novice runners bring with them bad habits which we miraculously shift to good habits. A late sleeper becomes an early riser or an unhappy person finds joy in running. But we all know people who find success in training after they wake up at noon. And I haven't seen a lot of smiles on the faces of serious marathoners.
Dedication can be constructive or destructive depending on the activity. Commitment to academics is positive. To a gang, negative. Dedication can be important in running, but it is far more than just going through the motions each day. Likeability is often a liability. Humans can take advantage of generosity and cheerfulness. We have some wonderful people on our team, but that has little to do with how well they compete. And we are all cynical to a degree. Confidence while important, at times can lead to arrogance. Thinking you're better than the runner next to you is not what makes an elite high school runner. But enough of the negativity. What is the most important trait of a successful runner?
Just one man's opinion.
You've already motivated yourself to start running. You're headed in the right direction. How many of your friends are turned off to running Cross Country because of the work involved? All of us know somebody who has said that. Each time you try to recruit a friend, do you anticipate that type of response? Probably. (But by all means keeps trying!) Take a look at the successful runners on our teams as well as our opponents and it is increasingly evident the personality trait of self-motivation is the key ingredient.
I had a nice discussion with the Marshfield coach yesterday who alluded to the fact that while he may have fewer athletes, a higher percentage of those are finding success in running. I would suggest that those individuals self-motivation gets them out there every day. As an aside I also overheard Coach Sheppard telling his team today's practice would be an easy run on their own. Do you think they'll do it? Would you?