My three younger sons, ages 16, 14 and 11, participate in cross-country events. The eleven year old was running a race while the rest of us ran from point to point where we could catch glimpses of him. As he sped by, his two older brothers were cheering him on: “Spread the peanut butter!” They yelled. “Spread the peanut butter!” Toward the end of the race the chanting subtly changed to: “Spread ALL the peanut butter!” Curious as to know what this mantra meant, I later asked them to tell me about it. What they told me turns out to be not just a great metaphor for how to run, but for almost anything—training, nutrition, balance, living life in general!
Learning how to run, becomes a metaphor for Life
We had recently attended Karl Meltzer’s Speed Goat 50k, at Snowbird, Utah, which the 16 and 14 year olds ran in, and ultimately crossed the finish line side by side. Sometime, while there, the boys had an opportunity to talk with legendary ultra-runner Roch Horton*, who is not only a great ultra-athlete, but, also, an incredible and caring mentor. “What is the secret of how to run a great race?” they asked him. To this, Roch replied, that they were each like a jar of peanut butter, which was filled according to their training, health, strength, stamina, courage and endurance. He felt that each of them had a lot of “peanut butter” inside them, ready to be used, but they had to be smart and careful about how they spread it out. If they dumped it all out at once, at the beginning of a race, there would be nothing left at the end; and, likewise, if they waited to spread the bulk of it out at the end, it would be too late to utilize their full jar and potential. Now, he told them, think of a racecourse as if it were a slice of bread. Look at the bread and make a plan to completely cover every inch of it. The trick, he said, (and, at this point in the story, the boys each made a visual demonstration with the little finger edge of one hand over the open palm of the other, deliberately moving the edged shaped hand toward the fingers, then upward, then in toward the wrist and back in a circular motion), is to spread out the peanut butter like you were spreading it with a knife onto the soft, textured, slice of bread, from one side, smoothly, deliciously, around the other side until the bread is fully covered and with a result that there is no “peanut butter” left on the knife at the end. It has all been used up—and the bread has been completely covered, that is how to run.
How many of us have the courage and tenacity to leave no peanut butter at the end? To visualize the course, make a plan and see it through. How many of us consciously realize that we will only have to give in a race what we have previously put into ourselves through training and experience? How many of us have the patience, planning and foresight to divide and spread our peanut butter in such a way throughout the course of a race—and through life—that optimal efficiency and the ultimate in performance is obtained? This is not about winning a race but about reaching the fullest and truest performance. Not about having a better time, but reaching a true personal best. Not only how to run, but how to live.
From a different perspective, how many of us live life and train with the idea we are filling our selves up—and perhaps, helping others to do the same—in every moment of the day? It takes courage, power and principle to truly know ones-self, to take confidence in effort and abilities, and to honestly and openly face, choose, and meet our personal goals.
UltrAspire invites all constructive discussion.
Photo 1: Matthew Thatcher running in his Middle School Cross Country race.
Photo 2: Micah and Joshua Thatcher “Spreading the Peanut Butter” Mile 26 of Speedgoat 50K 2012.
Photo 3: Roch Horton manning his aid station at Speed Goat 2012. “ –every runner gets a cold towel, a popsicle, more cowbell and Utah hospitality like no other.” Roch Horton Photo credit: Brendan Trimboli
Photo 4: Micah and Joshua Thatcher running in the soon to be released UltrAspire 2013 line *More to come on the 2013 line.