I thought about the topic I’d blog about quite a bit today. I had a collection of ideas, but I felt compelled towards none of them. So I turned to my good friend, Pinterest, for inspiration. I decided to go to the “Quotes” category of Pins and blog about the first one that caught my eye. Here’s what I got:
Coincidentally enough, Steve Prefontaine is my hero. Well, okay, he’s most runners’ hero, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I used to dream of marrying him. A rebel from Coos Bay, Oregon, “Pre” ran for the University of Oregon, competed in the 1972 Moscow Olympics, and set several American records during his days on the track.
Behind his infamous “Pre ‘stache” and flowing blonde locks was a man of integrity and character. He didn’t see running as mere sport; to Pre, running defined his morality, his self-worth, his lifestyle. He often challenged his coach Bill Bowerman (the true inventor of Nike) when it came to workouts, racing, living, and really most everything else, but Pre never fought without proving his argument. While his event, the 5000 meter, was widely raced and won on strategy– which Bowerman advocated and continually pushed on Pre– he always raced with everything within him.
Steve Pre once said, “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.”
He also said, “I run to see who has the most guts.”
Of course Pre wanted to win, but he would never do so by staying within his comfort zone. He never “went out easy” or ran a conservative race because he felt that would compromise the talent bestowed upon him. He believed that racing meant giving it all or nothing, so he started in front and stayed there as long as physically possible. He endured relentless, brutal physical pain.
Without doing so, I don’t believe he would have won every NCAA race he ever competed in.
So, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great,” was not out-of-character for Steve Prefontaine to say. And it was certainly a motto he lived by.
I am challenged by this quote and Pre’s life on a whole. I reflect on the areas of my life I achieve greatness, and consequently the areas where I am just doing “good enough.” The ratio of the latter is undoubtedly higher.
For me, it’s relatively easy to do well in school, do well at work, have good conversations and nice times with friends, be a good daughter and sister, have a good run or race, be a pretty good Bible study leader, give a good amount of time to God…
But excellence requires sacrificing just a little more than good does. Excellence also produces so much more satisfaction and fullness of life.
Just a little more time, a little more motivation, a little more joy, a little more patience, a little more endurance. Pre sacrificed efficient, strategic, comfortable racing and endured pain to be a great runner. He is now honored as one of the greatest distance runners to live.
Pre believed that great efforts produced great performance. And the Bible also commands us, “Whatever you do, work heartily.” (Colossians 3:23) He had “guts” and invited his opponents to challenge his guts. Yet, few did.
So, now, I am forced to consider whether I will choose to have guts and pursue greatness in my life… or stick with the few Pre beat out. (Say, what were their names again?) What, to me, is worth relentless sacrifice? At the end of my life, what do I want to be said of me? Will people say I achieved greatness, as Pre did in his running?
It’s a thought. It’s a challenge. It’s a risk. But great is so much better than good.
(A side note: If you’re interested in this Steve Prefontaine fella, I recommend watching Without Limits.)