Do You Run to Win or Run to Finish?
Encompassing running ability, training, and overall mindset, we all have the “run to win” or “run to finish” attitude. The question is: Do we know which one we fall into, and does it matter?
Run to Win
Although I cannot speak to these sort of runners (since I am not one of them), I would characterize the top level of the “run to win” athletes to be the elite runners at the front of the start line. Motivated by time standards and qualifiers, these runners train with one very important goal in mind: to win the race. Since this is such a small group of runners, how can other runners also fall into this “run to win” category?
Well, I think “run to win” could also be more personal. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are trying to run faster than everyone else, it means you are competing with no one except yourself to run a certain time or to set a new PR. From my experience, I think that every runner, whether a beginner or an elite, can fall into this category after first getting a few races under their belt.
Run to Finish
The “run to finish” attitude is characterized by showing up on race day with the goal of finishing. Don’t get me wrong, these runners may have trained just as hard as the runners going out trying to accomplish a PR, but they may not have a specific goal time in mind. Most likely, this attitude may be adopted by beginner runners in their first few races, but the “run to finish” attitude is something that all runners can and do return to throughout their running careers.
Which One Are You?
When I gained the courage to sign up for my first couple of races, I started off as a “run to finish” runner. I had been training as best as I could, but I still didn’t know much about my abilities to really be able to set a goal time. On my first half marathon, I set out just to cross the finish line and finish my first half marathon race. I only calculated an approximate range of time I would finish just so that I could tell my friends cheering me on around what time I would be crossing the finish line. I did this same thing for my first ten-mile race. With those two races under my belt, I began training for my first marathon, and realized that I was beginning to run faster than I ever thought possible. I am now near the end of my training and will accomplish my personal goal of running my first marathon at the end of this month!
The “run to finish” attitude has stuck with me, but I have also set a very reasonable goal time to accompany me going into this race. I know that I will be happy to just finish the race at whatever time, but adopting the “run to win” attitude as well has allowed me to push myself during training and truly see all that I can accomplish.
Does it Matter?
The simple answer is no, it does not matter what kind of runner you are, whether you run to win or run to finish, or even if you go back and forth between the two. Whether at the end of each race you are celebrating being one of the first to cross the finish line, or celebrating just crossing the finish line, we are all succeeding in accomplishing something larger than ourselves.
Finally, I believe that at the end of the day, you have to enjoy running and find it beneficial to your life. You must first see the joy in just running, and then go out and adopt your attitude around it and discover your purpose and goals behind the sport. As you continue to run or train for races, knowing if you are a “run to win” or “run to finish” type runner will help you understand how you can make your running experience the best it can possibly be.
Do you have a similar story of transition between the “run to finish” and “run to win” mentality? Do you continue to switch between the two? Share your experiences in the comments below!