I had already learned to cast aside every extra weight and to tone my muscles and body into perfect shape, but I never really understood how important all that was until I really became a runner.
In running, speed is important. Especially if one is to be a sprinter and a sprinter is what I wanted to be. And so I sprinted until I became an excellent sprinter. I practiced and practiced. I exercised and prepared. I spent all of my time and effort getting ready for the race.
I knew what was needed. After all, you could never win a race if you weren't prepared. Why, just think of what would happen if three men were running in a race and one of them was dressed in his running clothes with track shoes ready. And another man was dressed in a track suit but carried a shot in his hand and a ball and chain strapped to his leg. And the third man, picture him dressed in a suit of armor. When the gun sounds, which one will win? Which one will be the victor? Why, the one who was prepared and ready.
And suppose the same three men were in another race and they were all fitted in the finest track shoes and all had on identical running clothes but one man was ready and had trained every day, the other hadn't run a race in ten years and the third man had never run at all. Which one would win? Why, the one that was ready. The one who had trained. So I trained.
And I was ready. I was prepared both mentally and physically. Soon the race would begin. For months now I had waited for this one moment. I was ready. I looked at the competition and I knew I could win.
When we entered the starting blocks, I could feel the adrenaline flowing through my body. I was ready. When the gun exploded in my ear, my feet pushed off the blocks and my body leaped in to action and I ran. I ran and I ran as fast as I could. And I won.
I won, I was the victor? I had won the race and I was exhausted and drained both mentally and physically. I had put all my effort into running and I had run and I was tired. The race was over.
Yes, I had won the race. But it was such a short race. Such a foolish race. I had trained so hard and so long for a race that lasted only ten seconds. Ten seconds of service only to fizzle out for lack of a longer goal. I was a runner, but there was more to being a runner than speed. There has to be more. There has to be more than winning. There has to be some joy in running and some purpose in all this training. There has to be. So I tried longer races, mixing speed with endurance. Races that made the training and practice worthwhile. I began running for distance.