During my time at Samford University, I found a love for something that I never thought I would enjoy. Daily, I would put on some shorts, a dri-fit shirt, lace up my Brooks running shoes, queue the iPod and hit the Lakeshore trail to go running. I started my time not even being able to run a mile, but with some determination, I began to run daily – I got in the best shape of my life (so far) and started to look for ways to compete.
Shortly after I knew I could physically run 3 miles, I ran my first 5k and loved it. Running races made me realize there is a community who participates in events and they made running much more fun. Also at a race, I could find people to push me – people who became my pacers. Though the community is a blast, one of the greatest parts is that there will typically be people better than you, faster than you, and willing to push you to work harder.
For me, how I do in a race is all about the person I am pacing with. I need someone who is a little faster than me so I can try my hardest to keep up with them for the duration of the race.
One of the bigger lessons that I have learned though is that in a race, I cannot pick my pacer until I have completed the first mile. See, when a race starts you always have 3 types of Runners:
- Runners who are out of shape, but over-achievers. These are the people who think for some reason they can surpass basic principles of endurance and get ahead on this one race day. You do not want this pacer, as they will sprint for a mile and will die out and will finish closer to the end of the pack as opposed to the beginning
- A Seasoned racer who sand-bags the start to let the amateurs out of the way. This is not a bad racer to follow, if you are trained enough to keep up when they take off, but for the average runner this runner is not going to keep a pace that will allow you to sustain with him
- The third type of runner will never stand out from the start, but they believe that the slow and steady can win the race. This is the group who will start out at a manageable pace, will have personal goals set, and will run throughout the course of the race to achieve that goal.
I have written a lot about finding a mentor and people who will invest in you, because I believe that it is one of the most important things we can do for our growth. Just like a pacer will help you achieve better results in a race, someone in life and leadership can also help pace you to become the person you want to become.
I do think the challenge though is that you need to find someone who is the right fit for you. When I run a race, If I follow the wrong person, I will burn out, not be able to keep up, then shortly I will find out that I am running the race alone. In life I need the same type of pacer – I need someone who will push me, but not leave me in the dark. Someone who will challenge me – but not hold back. Someone to help me understand that slow and steady can, and will win the race.
The trick with following the slow and steady is that they know when to take advantage of the right moment. A good pacer will get very strategic going up a hill, yet they will take advantage to gain momentum when going down hill. A good pacer will seize opportunity, be planned and strategic in tough situations, and will celebrate at the end. Slow and steady does not mean to loose, but more so to win in the long-run.
My challenge is to put the right people in front of you, keep up the pace, and achieve what you want to accomplish. Just like a race is tough without a pacer, life and leadership is even more so. Don’t miss an opportunity to have people in your life who will lead you on you greatness.
Have you had people around you to pace with in life? Does it help you achieve your goals?