“Learn, Know, Accept and Respect”

Reflections as a Runner by Dave McGillivray

by Dave McGillivray, Race Director of the Boston Marathon

Day19 ExpertpostGiven that I have been running and racing for over 50 years, I certainly have a lot to REFLECT on. Why did I start running and why do I continue doing it? Everyone has a unique answer and a unique story although I truly believe we all have a common denominator. We run to feel good about ourselves – everyone does. When you run, you accomplish. When you accomplish, you gain self-confidence. When you gain self-confidence, you gain self-esteem. There is nothing more powerful in our lives than that.

I started running to stay in shape for other sports. Then I realized I liked the individual, competitive aspect of running so I took the path of least resistance and kept running and running and running. Initially, I was being competitive with others but eventually it morphed into being competitive with the “reflection” in the mirror (me), setting personal goals that were physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. I was encouraged by my strengths but humbled by my weakness, but the key was to learn, know, accept and respect the difference.

Now in my 60’s, I run for all those reasons but relatively speaking. I still have the competitive genes but I’m realistic about who I am now competitive with. I still set personal challenges, it is in my DNA. I still reap the benefits of immediate gratification when achieving a goal. This is what makes running special – you can derive the benefits at any age and at multiple levels.

Having run Boston for the past 43 years, there is a lot to reflect on. Some efforts were fast, some were slow, some were hard, some were easy, some were pretty, some were ugly. But, in the end, they all were special. Many supporters – family, friends, coaches – help get you to the starting line. But, once the gun fires, you are on your own to get yourself to the finish line. Perfect.  

As I reflect, I have no regrets.   However, I am careful just to reflect, not to live in the past. Past accomplishments should just give you a foundation of confidence and comfort, but you want to live for today.  It’s okay to “change the rules”, be realistic and always set yourself up for success, not failure. Everything in your life is a reflection of the choices you have made.  If you want different results, you need to make different choices.

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