Do you run like you drive?

I’ve been on a fair amount of road trips this summer and have had plenty of time in the car to think. I’ve thought about running, about racing, about interview subjects, monetizing strategies, races I need to register for, and so on.

I’ve thought about my kids, how Kindergarten is going to work out, Sam’s bio-tech career, when we’ll start the home renovation, etc.

Through all these thoughts, I’ve been behind the wheel of the car, paying attention to the road, checking over and under passes for Highway Patrol, scanning my rear-view mirror every few seconds, popping the sunroof looking for low-flying aircraft, and cringing as I see the speedometer creep well above what would be considered “safe and prudent.”  I’m generally driving as fast as possible without getting caught or putting myself or my family at risk.

I know I shouldn’t be going this fast, but I’ve got it under control. I’m doing what I need to do to stay safe, careful, and vigilant, and they’re not going to catch me.  It’s not like I’m speeding past everyone like a lunatic…I’m being smart about it. Besides, the less time I’m on the road, the less chance I have of getting into an accident, right? Right!?!

With full recognition that I’m blatantly jinxing myself for the next ten years, I’ve been careful (and, fine, lucky) enough to have avoided traffic tickets for the last dozen or so years.  And that’s just how I like it. Fast enough to pass people all the time, dangerous enough to feel like a  professional race car driver, but smart enough to do it without getting busted.

And you guessed it, that’s about the same strategy I take in my running and racing. Push the limits to make it fun and exciting, dangerous enough to always almost blow up, but careful enough to only do so occasionally and thus have a decent finish rate.

So after a couple of runs where I toyed with this idea and found all the similarities between my driving and running styles, I’ve been convinced that others act the same in safe/unsafe situations. My sister is a safe driver and she rarely pushes her limits in racing (despite being a tremendous talent.)  My friend Steve has 3 points on his license for speeding, and his DNF rate is around 50% in ultras due to not controlling his speed and blowing up spectacularly.

On my Saturday run this week, I spoke with my two friends Dirk and Melissa, and neither of them found similarities in themselves.  Dirk drives safely and runs smart. Melissa does the same.  Ethan says he used to drive like a maniac, but he’s been tempered with age…except in the racing arena where he’s “become more willing to take risks as I have gotten faster with the running but less inclined to drive quickly…over roughly the same period.”

So how about you?  Do you push your limits in racing just as you do in driving, going “probably a little too hard/fast, but careful not to blow up” or do you participate in both activities with a tempered, even attitude?

Has that changed over the years?  What do you think?


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