The First Step — Enjoyment
No two athletes would give exactly the same reasons for taking up a particular sport. Dozens of factors, physical, mental, and psychological, influence a young man to turn to football, cricket, swimming, or running. But if those reasons were analysed, you would find one basic element in them all — an outside influence from someone whose attitude to sport inspired the young to follow.
Lydiard opens his book with this paragraph. He closes that chapter with this:
None of this confusion or casualness killed my new outlook on running. I decided I was going to enjoy it and that’s where I made my first discovery or, if you like, had my first inspiration. The first step to enjoying running — and anyone will enjoy it if he takes that first step — is to achieve perfect fitness. I don’t mean just the ability to run half a mile once a week without collapsing. I mean the ability to run great distances with ease at a steady speed.
The first step to enjoyment…is GETTING IN SHAPE.
For those who do not know, Arthur came to a great fitness around mid-life and there is a chapter in the book devoted to those who are nearing those ages. Everyone can run, as long as the heart is healthy enough for it. But not many enjoy it.
Because they aren’t fit enough to enjoy it.
My wife has a friend who runs sporadically and always complains that it isn’t fun. Well, of course not…it’s hard. But it gets easier.
I like the cue about, “Keep it simple, stupid.” Right? Running distance races is pretty simple. Get fit, get fast, run hard. But you have to get fit first.
How do you do that?
By getting out and running.
There was a time in my life where every run felt effortless and naturally pleasing. I yearned for the runs. I yearned for that feeling of going out and running long. And that was the best moments of my running career. The only way I can describe it is as pure enjoyment.