The Search for the Athlete Within

Bob Glover, author of The Competitive Runner's Handbook, says in his chapter on mental training, he "challenges people to search for the athlete within." In saying this, he's assuming we all have an athlete within!

He writes, "Feeling worthwhile as an athlete doesn't come easily. Think of yourself as an athlete. Yes, you! (me, really?) Whether you run a 5-minute or a 10-minute mile, are twenty years old or sixty. You strive to do your best just like the Elites up front. Feel proud of yourself as a runner. Don't compare yourself to others and feel substandard." Thanks, Bob. I needed to hear that.

I STILL have a hard time saying I am a runner or an athlete. I know it's not really about the speed or distance I run. It's about getting out there rain or shine, whether it's 20 degrees or 80 degrees, four days a week, doing something that does not come easily or naturally to me. It's not about winning the race, it's about waiting expectantly, toe on that start line, shoulder to shoulder with humanity, and the exhilaration when that gun goes off. It's not even about finishing a race. It's about getting out there and starting one.

In her blog Mile Markers, Kristin Armstrong ( had an epiphany about running that I can really relate to

"Never in my life, before running, did I ever push hard after something that did not rank high on the list of things that come easily to me. I have always aspired to/excelled at things that I was already good at.

But running isn't like that for me. It's hard for me. I struggle. I suffer. I get discouraged. I get mad. I celebrate, sometimes......

I may not always run the way I want to run, race the way I imagine myself racing, and my performance outside may only rarely reflect the runner on the inside, but there is a certain endurance rush reserved for those of us who have to work extra hard just to stand on the start line and dream. There is a unique beauty to pursuing the glow that resides just beyond our reach."

Kind of poetic, don't you think?


Definitely! One of the great things about running, for me, has been to work at something I'm not good at.
Great post, I really enjoyed this one. For me, I used to think of myself as an athlete, and it's when I could no longer define myself as one that I picked up running because I wanted to have that part of me back. I feel that if you are able to run 5 miles (or even 1) you can call yourself an athlete, if that makes any sense.
thanks for the comments, ladies! Or should I say, Fellow Athletes!
Boy, can I relate, Donna. One reason I started running was to finish a local race weekend and walk through the gate at the end that said, "Athletes Only". The day I walked through that gate was the day I realized that I had the power to control the labels I put on myself. It was a very powerful lesson.

Thanks for this thought-provoking post.