Imaginary Friends Stay Free.”
Marque on The Hampton Inn – Lancaster, Ohio
Every book I’ve ever read on the subject of running encourages you to make friends with other runners and train as a group. Why not? Runners lead a positive lifestyle. Most of the time they eat right, think right and act right. What we’re talking about are the benefits of hanging out with people who want the best for you.
In my thirty plus years of running, I have enjoyed being part of several running clubs. On race day, it’s been fun sharing the struggle and celebration with my buddies. But for my next adventure, I’m going to try something new, running with my imaginary friends.
On one side of me at the starting line is Rocky Marciano and on the other side is Norman Vincent Peale.
The most important quality a long distance runner needs is tenacity – the ability to just keep going, one foot in front of the other no matter what. There is no better athlete to illustrate this virtue than Rocky Marciano, the only Heavyweight Boxing Champion to retire undefeated. He won 43 of his 49 victories by knockout. He was relentless. Sports writer Bert Sugar said, “A building could fall on Rocky Marciano and he would still be swinging at you.”
Just like the Tortoise in the famous race against the Hare, in the beginning, Rocky didn’t look like a sure bet to become champion. He was clumsy, lacking style and grace. What couldn’t be measured in the beginning, soon became apparent as Rocky began knocking out all his opponents. For most of the early rounds in his fights against the top contenders he looked like the loser.
Bruised and battered he kept after his opponents and just plain wore them out. It looked like he became stronger with each passing round. He soon became famous for his right hand, a knockout punch that sports writers named the Susie Q. Rocky’s trainer, Charlie Goldman, said, “I got a guy who’s short, stoop-shouldered and balding with two left feet. They all look better than he does as far as moves are concerned, but they don’t look so good on the canvas. God, how he can punch.”
Norman Vincent Peale was pastor of The Marble Collegiate Church in New York City for over 50 years. He wrote, The Power Of Positive Thinking, a book that stayed at the top of the best seller list for two years. His message is still studied by those who want to be winners. Dr. Peale said, “People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”
I’m certain that Rocky and Norman are not going to tell me to try and knock out the other runners. But I am sure they are both going to encourage me to give the challenge my best effort and never give up.