Pursuing a Life of Excellence

IMG_0010A few Saturdays ago (January 24) I ran a particularly hard nine miles with my training group.

However that didn’t keep me from fulfilling my role as the groups “entertainer” [1] by telling jokes, sharing stories, and even singing a few bars of “A Whole New World” from the movie Aladdin [2]!

Last Saturday (January 31) I ran an easier six miles with a very different response. There was little talking, no jokes, and wheezing and gasping instead of Disney songs.

What made the difference? I moved up to a faster group

Our training program is broken down into groups of 1 to 5. Since some people in each group are faster than others, they are then divided into an A and B

Part of me was tempted to stay in 4B (already a fast group) were I was one of the stronger runners instead of moving up to 4A were I would be one of the last finishers.

What led me to finally forced me to make that decision was the little voice in my head that whispered “hey you could do a little bit better.”[3]

The real problem though was my goal

Up till a few weeks ago the goal for training looked like this:

  1. Run about a 2:10 Half-Marathon [4]
  2. Get back into running shape
  3. Entertain my training partners

This is definitely an awesome goal, but these are all things I’ve already accomplished…in other words they are too easy.

Here is what my goal looks like after moving from group 4B to group 4A:

  1. Run a 2:00 Half Marathon or less
  2. Be at the front of the group (I’m currently towards the back)
  3. Run a 9:20 overall pace per mile (currently 9:30 is the fastest I can do overall)

Do you see how each of these goals push me harder?

That doesn’t mean it’s easy creating goals to push us to the limit. While stretching out after Saturdays run with 4B they expressed how much they missed me [5].  The thing is I missed them too [6] but on race day I will be thankful for the training sessions with a group that pushed me.

It’s easy to go through life doing what’s comfortable or things we are gifted at. But there will come a day when those hours singing Disney and telling jokes instead of pursuing excellence will come back to haunt us.


  1. having someone who keeps up the conversation helps immensely in longer runs  ↩
  2. To those who want to hear me sing it I will make you a deal. Run the hills of Winston Salem at 7:00 on a Saturday morning when it’s thirty degrees, and I will sing you “A Whole New World”  ↩
  3. If I have enough energy to sing Disney songs, I’m not running hard enough  ↩
  4. something I’ve done before  ↩
  5. it was a lot quieter, and fairly certain nobody else was singing Disney songs  ↩
  6. particularly while wheezing my way up a hill  ↩

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