I like to run. I don’t like to lift weights. That’s why I’m skinny and train for marathons instead of being big and buff. But this morning during my training run it occurred to me that the two sports have something very profound in common.
Quite simply, there’s no room for hyperbole on the track or in the gym. If you’re lifting weights, you can either pick up the barbell or you can’t. There’s no need for bragging, exaggerating or BSing. Either pick it up or go home.
Running’s the same. You can either run the distance or you can’t. And you can either run the distance at a certain speed or you can’t. Because when you get to the end of the run, your watch tells you exactly how far you went, how long it took, and how fast you were going. You can disagree but the facts speak for themselves.
Sure, you can make excuses – “my hamstring hurts,” “I didn’t get enough sleep,” “I’ve been sick,” “I’m jet-lagged” – but none of those reasons really matter. Either you can do it or you can’t.
Of course, people do brag and BS when they get together outside the gym or off the track. Stories about weights lifted and times recorded buzz around bars like flies around cattle. But there’s not a lot of trash talk when it’s time to rock and roll. That’s why gyms and tracks are so quiet; there’s not much to brag about when you’re about to prove whether you actually can or can’t do exactly what you’re talking about. Either put up or shut up. After all, the results are instant and they’re public. And they’re not always pretty.
My training group is made up of people from all walks of life and all levels of running ability. We’ve got runners who are blindingly fast (Pedro, Daniel, the Davids, Jen, Tim) and some (mostly me) who are so slow we look like we’re running backwards. Funny thing is no one cares. Our pecking order is clearly delineated by who crosses the finish line first. But there’s no need for posturing because it’s clear to all of us who can do what and just how long it takes them to do it.
Now imagine if the world worked the same way. Salesmen wouldn’t prattle on and on about their prowess; they’d prove it by selling stuff. Investment brokers wouldn’t have to market their talents; they’d just make you money. Attorneys wouldn’t have to brag about what they could do; they’d simply win cases. And politicians wouldn’t need to make promises; they’d just make the world a better place.
Strange that a guy who makes his living from marketing would talk this way but what I’ve learned from my work experience (and my running group) is that if you want to talk the talk you’d better be able to walk the walk.