As I was writing the post about Van Aaken the other day,I was struck by a statement he made in relation to those seeking running success,he used the phrase: "live like an athlete." That got me thinking about what it means "to live like an athlete." I feel there are two types of runners, the fun runner and the serious runner. As mentioned many times before, your degree of participation and committment to running does not make you any better or lesser of a runner than anyone else. It's a personal decision you've made due to a variety of reasons. So what does it mean to live like an athlete? First off, running is an integral part of your lifestyle when you are an athlete. You plan your days,weekends and months keeping in mind the kind of training or racing you will be doing. I will quickly add that this is not an excuse to neglect family obligations and relationships. Over the years I've seen guys who have left family to go off and train and race here and there, leaving behind loved ones who over time come to be resentful of what they are doing. As one who has done it in the past, you can easily involve family to the point that it becomes a kind of team effort.Living like an athlete means you not only have a training system you follow but you plan for a specific racing season. Serious athletes establish short-term and long-term goals.I'm always perplexed by athletes who say they are "serious" but basically race all year. I remember back in the 90's several Stotans trained specifically for one race,the Virgil Mountain Madness. Everything we did during the year was done while keeping that race in mind. In living like an athlete we are also very careful of being restricted in what we can or can't do because of the materialistic or financial situations WE have created. An example,do you really want that second new car if it means having to work more or taking a second job that results in you having less time for running? For those who think this is extreme let me say this again, tomorrow is guaranteed to no one! Don't think you can wait till........and then you'll........If you are living like an athlete then you are eating and drinking like one. You should eat like someone who respects their body and hopes to live and perform at an optimal level. One of the biggest fallacies that was in vogue years ago, and thankfully seems to be fading away, is that training hard gives you a license to eat and drink as much as you want, and whatever you want. Athletes have their times when they indulge and enjoy themselves but it is definitely not the same as what the "the world" does. Some may wonder why I haven't included keeping a journal as an integral part of being a serious runner. The reason for this is that over the years I've read of many elite athletes who say they never used a journal. To me, keeping a running journal boils down to whether or not you personally see a need for one. My journal is the wall calender I have where I pencil in the mileage and where I ran. Probably one other thing that comes to mind in regards to being an athlete is that we learn and draw our inspiration from the great runners of the past. We seek out books and materials about them. I also can't forget to add that we should be a help and encouragement to other runners,no matter what their level of committment is. In closing I say this, living like an athlete means we are more focused and disciplined than most people but we have such a love of running that it is by no means a sacrifice,it's a joy.