Thoughts about Ryan Hall’s Philosophy
Sorry for the hiatus in posting. Midterms get a little crazy, so I apologize! Blogging is really just one part of an already crazy life.
Recently, I read an article in the New Yorker about marathoner Ryan Hall. For those of you who don’t know about him, he is the record holder for the fastest marathon time by an American. He ran the Boston Marathon in 2011 in a blistering 2:04.58! Lately, though, he has not measured up to what people expect him to do.
In the article, he discusses his personal and running philosophy. He states, “Running can be such a beautiful sport. An amazing experience for everyone. But I’ve also been on the other side of that, where I’ve lived for the victories and the performances and I just—I know how shallow and fleeting and chasing-the-wind that is.” His goals are “To never compare myself to myself or anyone else. I think comparison is bad. It’s bad in sports, it’s bad in life, it’s bad in writing, it’s just bad. But it is called a competition, so how do you do a competition the right way? For me, that’s where it comes back to excellence. I try and get everything out of my body that God’s put in me, the best I can. You hear it a million times—‘Just do your best’—but, really, that’s all you can do.”
It’s extremely easy to view a race as a defining moment. That’s where the competition happens, right? That’s where we see what we can do. But, I really appreciate Hall’s philosophy on this matter: it’s never really about comparison. It’s about doing the best with what you have at your disposal. It’s about not giving up. Your best is different each and every day. My best today, being is good health with healthy joints and havin a good night’s sleep, is different than my best when I’m sick, tired, or stressed.
When we get our identity based on competition, rather than our best at the time, we get hung up on placements and splits. When we try to achieve our best on any given day, we learn that we are complex creatures and should be treated as such.
I’ll end with another quote from Ryan Hall.
“I think that believing who you are, knowing who you are before the race is so important. A lot of athletes are trying to prove themselves through their performances. I’m trying to be aware of who I am so I can perform at my highest level. Which is a lot different.”
And I hope we can all know who we are before we go out and try to see who we can be.