A blog by runners. For runners.

Focus on the running process, not just the results

befores and afters are static, and when we only focus on them, we miss the most vital and substantial piece of the pie: the here and now.

When my daughter saw her first puppy, she smiled ear to ear and squealed with joy. She ran her fingers through his soft fur, pressed her ear to his sturdy chest, and marveled at his long, lapping tongue. The next day, sitting on my lap, reading a book about farm animals, she cried, “big puppy,” tapping a picture of a long-haired cow. “That’s a cow, honey.” They say mooooo. Puppy’s say ruff ruff!”

She made an understandable mistake. She saw shaggy haired, four legged, floppy eared animal. She learned by comparing something she knew to something new and unknown.

Likewise, when we page through magazines, flip through channels, or line up on race day, we take in the vast variety of body types. Of course, most elite distance runners seem cast from a similar mold: lean, sinuous muscles and chiseled frames. But runners come in all shapes and sizes. What lies under the hood and how the machine operates matters more than what it looks like on the outside.

As a culture, we are obsessed with the before and after. The marketing campaigns of vitamins, supplements, and workout programs are inundated with them. It’s a profitable formula.

But befores and afters are static, and when we only focus on them, we miss the most vital and substantial piece of the pie: the here and now. The active process.

On your next run, seek out reflective surfaces and notice what your body is doing, what it is accomplishing in the moment.

There is a gap between what we think and what’s real. What we think we sound like. What we look like. How our actions and words are perceived. So by seeking reflective surfaces on the run: car windows, store fronts, glass facades, we can study our biomechanics in motion and take inventory or make adjustments.

If you run by store fronts and glass facades, take a moment to glance at yourself. What do you see? Watch your foot strikes, leg turnover, arm swings, posture, and overall form. What does this feedback tell you? Arms hanging low? Legs outstretched? Make adjustments.

And, of course, be cautious of your surroundings. Watch for swinging car doors, oncoming traffic, telephone poles, pot holes. Probability states that you will undoubtably meet the eyes of another through a translucent pane of glass and share an awkward moment. That’s okay. Glance back with confidence.

If someone thinks you’re vain, narcissistic, or insecure, that’s their problem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Written by Stephen Marcin.