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iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

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iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

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iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

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iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

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iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

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iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

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iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

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iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

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iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

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iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

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iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

CRS, Motivation, News

Celebrating Mediocrity: Lessons Learned Running in 2016

In the days following a big city marathon, the stories that will grab the most attention and dominate the headlines are those that are so extraordinary they’re almost absurd. These are the stories that most vividly illustrate the ability of the marathon to shatter what we considered the limits of human strength and determination.

These are the stories of Jean-Paul Bedard, for whom enduring personal struggles which have claimed the lives of millions did not diminish the sheer grit needed to complete four consecutive marathons over the course of twenty four hours, and of Robert MacDonald, for whom it would have been a miracle at one time to walk again let alone traverse fourty-two kilometres. It is the story of Ed Whitlock, who in fifteen year old running shoes, ran a sub-4:00 marathon at the age of 85.

Fighting through the humidity at the 18K mark. Image courtesy of Tribe Fitness.

Fighting through the humidity at the 18K mark. Image courtesy of Tribe Fitness.

I ran alongside Mr. Whitlock for a few minutes during the portion of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon that goes out and back along Toronto’s waterfront. Only a few minutes after spotting Ed, the elite runners whipped past us in the other direction, already having hit the turnaround to head back east.

Such stories and experiences can be interpreted a few ways. They are, of course, sources of inspiration for us to push our own limits and opportunities to be humbled by incredible talent. On the other hand, no matter how much we may resist, they serve as points of comparison that make our own achievements feel diminished and our own stories seem insignificant.

On the day of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I was chasing my personal best at the half marathon. I was riding a wave of incredible momentum, having already twice run a PB at the distance in 2016. Despite the oppressive humidity and a blister on the bottom of my right foot having formed precisely where I struck the ground with every step, I did indeed run that PB and completed the race feeling optimistic that, if granted friendlier conditions, even stronger results awaited me.

Still, in a pond peopled by Eric Gillis and Ed Whitlock, I barely cause a ripple. At least when it comes to the tangibles of running – overall rankings, placements within our age group, how close our results bring us to Boston – I’m still thoroughly mediocre. I am slightly faster than the average man my age at the half marathon, but to the best of my recollection I have never ranked even within the top 50 in my age group.

If I were to tell anything to a new runner, it would be to embrace this from the very beginning. It would be that in running greatness is not imperative and that constantly measuring ourselves against any conception of it will result in feeling like a failure. When we come to running, we are not chasing an end but cultivating a life skill. What we think will be our greatest moments of triumph will actually prove insignificant in the long term.

In the time I spent distracted by measuring myself against standards, I missed the key realization that running was never meant to be measured. While I’ve had the privilege of seeing many friends experience astronomical growth in their abilities as athletes, I suppose deep down we all know when we first lace up a pair of shoes that while we may very well exceed our own highest expectations, we will probably not be the global sensation that is Ed Whitlock. In my case, I’ve always known that I will never be an impressive runner, never run Boston, and never stand on a podium. As of this writing, I’m okay with that.

What I wish for every new runner to know is that even those moments where we post our fastest times at a distance, or maybe place within the top three in our age categories, are fleeting. They may be the moments of our greatest and most vocal celebrations. They may be the ones that attract the greatest cries of support and congratulations from friends, family, and the running community. They are not, however, the moments when running has the most power in our lives. Furthermore, they are few and far between. They are not guaranteed and if we hunger too strongly for them, the despair produced by their absence is all the more devastating.

Our most important and powerful moments come when we are furthest removed from the celebratory atmosphere of the big race. From the moment we start running, it is likely that years down the line, if it isn’t the case already, that we will have days when we reach points of emotional exhaustion following conflict with family and friends, when our daily responsibilities frustrate us to the point of murderous rage, when the future is wildly uncertain, when we confront the deepest depth of despair and loss.

On those days, the time that we manage to carve out of our day to run will mean everything to us. It will come quietly, like Homer’s rosy-fingered dawn, but these will be our most powerful moments of running. It is in these moments that we realize, in Jean-Paul Bedard’s words, running is not something we do, but something we are* and furthermore an integral companion in a journey towards the better person we hope to be for ourselves and those around us.

It is in those moments, too, that we’re telling a story that doesn’t hit the headlines with a bang, but which makes itself felt every day. When we talk about community building in running, we’re often talking about the tangibles. The money pumped into a local economy on race weekend, the funds raised for charity through that race, and the myriad of growing run crews that have made our sport more social, empowering, and far reaching than ever.

Running’s community building power is beyond running itself. In our journey as mediocre runners, we grow as parents, partners, friends, and citizens. Taken cumulatively, that is an incredible story. At the root of community is the individual who has been given the support and room to flourish. In the cluster of runners who cross the finish line are thousands of such individuals who have been given and have taken that invaluable opportunity. Those are the runners who have obtained wisdom through running that is carried each day beyond the finish line.

For each of us who is invisible on the course, our impact is quietly felt and is the culmination of the steps that we each took in the both the silent and exuberant moments. As you are passed by the elites, as you fail to run your personal best, continue running with the knowledge that with each step you are part of this silent revolution.

– Ravi Singh (@ravimatsingh)
*Bédard, J. (2016). Running into Yourself. Breakaway Books.

 

October 23rd, 2016

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