Much has been written about what is required to be a successful distance runner. Cerutty's classic, and best book was entitled,Athletics:How to Become a Champion.Over the decades of my being involved in this,the purest of all sports,distance running,I have found some qualities you need, and some you don't need to become successful. By successful in distance running I mean either competitve success or becoming as fast and fit as you can be.Obviously,determination and persistence are essential but everyone should know that,let me present a few that are frequently overlooked. Here goes:
1.A love for the sport of distance running is an essential quality needed.This love, that is a part of your being, takes you through the years,the injuries,the changes in your life,the times when you feel you are getting nowhere and every other obstacle that arises along the way.For instance,I'm sure you've seen runners come and go over the years,some have enjoyed varying degrees of success only to abandon the sport after the success fades,the injuries arrive or they move onto some other activity.When you really love something you stay with it because you....love it.
2.You don't need to be born with natural talent to do well in distance running.Buy a used copy of The Self-Made Olympian by Ron Daws,look up an article I wrote entitled,The Lesson of Ron Daws and you will see how true this statement on talent is.You will find you have to pay more attention to details than the naturally gifted runners but Ron wrote the textbook on achieving much after starting with less.By the way,The Self-Coached Olympian is on my top 5 list of greatest running books of all-time.
3.You must be organized.Having a training program with an accompanying racing schedule is a must.The schedule must reflect work and family demands.More on this below.
4.You need to be goal centered,some may call it self-centered,others maybe selfish.What I mean is,if you really commit to excellence in distance running,you lay out the plan that includes training and racing,you go over it with your significant other or family and then you work your life around that.There are 24 hours in the day so I hardly think taking 2 hours out of 24 is being selfish but.......On a related note,I still haven't figured out why self-described hardcore runners marry people who don't respect their love for running.I mean,it's a part of who they are,it's what in many ways makes them the kind of person their partner finds appealing, so why does this person resent their degree of involvement in running? For far too many significant others it's about control and doing what they want,it's not just about the running.
A refusal to be methodical and organized indicates a questionable desire to succeed.The proof as they say is in the pudding,what you do proves what you say you want.It's easy and fun to lace on the shoes to do a run; for many,it's less exciting to sit down and write in a journal,lay out a schedule or any of the other seemingly mundane tasks that you need to do sans training shoes.
I could go on, but for me,the above are the essentials. I think of other things like you don't require much money to be a runner.I have a friend who has spents thousands of dollars on being a triathlete.His bike cost more than the used car I bought a year ago. I guess that's one of the reasons I refer to distance running as the purest of all sports.It's natural simplicity is what makes it so great.