Friday, 21 May 2010

Avoiding Common Mistakes

We've all done it. At least once. Some of us do it more often than others. The lesson, however, in life, as in running, remains the same: Never, ever judge a book by its cover. Never. Let me explain:

One clear December morning in Jeffrey's Bay, my dad and I lined up for a relaxed family fun run. We agreed beforehand that the emphasis would be on spending time together and having fun. Simple enough, or so we thought until the time came for us to join our fellow family-fun-runners at the starting line... Within the wink of an eye some primal, competitive instinct kicked in and we found ourselves examining "the competition": Fellow runners were carefully scrutinised and categorised based on outward appearances. Without so much as a glimpse into their training regimens, diets or personal circumstances, complete strangers were classified as being "able to beat us" or "not able to beat us". It was that simple. Big mistake...

Dad and me.

First on our mental list of "not able to beat us" was a bald, elderly gentleman with a long, grey ponytail we named Kenny Rodgers. No fancy gear; no frills. No toned, athletic body; no expensive energy boosters. Just Kenny. At least we wouldn't be dead last.

The starter's pistol fired. With a false sense of security regarding our own (not quite elite) level of fitness and athleticism, we were off to a good start. Man, we were flying. But then... Could it be? Could the long, grey ponytail far off in the distance really belong to Kenny Rodgers? Afraid so. Kenny bolted off like a hungry cheetah and never looked back. Until after he crossed the finish line, that is: A freshly showered Kenny awaited us as we finally crossed the line...

Since that fateful day in Jeffrey's Bay I've spotted many Kennys over the years. They're everywhere. Hey, I might even have been someone else's Kenny at a race or two. These individuals have taught me, however, two very valuable lessons in running and in life: Never, ever judge a book by its cover. Never. And secondly: Enjoy the race. You're in it for yourself!

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