Are you a talented runner, and does it matter?

I think you’re looking at a Category 1 runner here.

Four Categories of Runners

Jack Daniels, famous running coach and author of the popular book Daniels’ Running Formula says that there are four types of runners:

1.Motivated and Talented

2. Talented but Unmotivated

3. Untalented but Motivated

4. Untalented and Unmotivated

What type of runner are you?

I am in group 3.

What I try to remember is that I don’t get to choose between group 1 and group 3. I get to choose between group 3 and group 4.

I can’t change the fact that other runners can run the same training schedule as me with better results; but I can choose to run that training schedule despite my diminished returns in comparison to those runners. If I don’t choose to run, I don’t get any of the benefits of running, and that’s not an exciting option.

We don’t need to do be amazing runners for running to do amazing things for us.

If Daniels is right, each of us is born with an innate level of running ability that we cannot change. What we can control is our own level of motivation and persistence in maxing out the expression of our own talent.

Because what matters most isn’t how fast I am, it’s that I’m running.  I’M RUNNING. That’s always been the most impressive thing about me as a runner; that I went from category 4 to category 3.

I do something regularly that I’m not great at, because it’s worth doing. It’s worth running that 5k even if you’re the last runner to finish. And I’m not!

There are some great things about being an untalented runner. I don’t place a lot of pressure on myself because I know I’m not going to be accomplishing anything fabulous. I feel gratitude just to be running half marathons.

When I head out to run for an hour in the fall past burnt orange leaves and a lake at sunrise, does it really matter how fast I’m going? It doesn’t… and if I worry too much about it, I might stop running at all.

I’m not giving up on improvement, I’m accepting that my efforts will not result in as much improvement as they might for a more talented or experienced runner. 

I like the journey, and I don’t think mine is done. I do think I’ll run a 2 hour half marathon at some point, just as I worked hard to consistently run sub 30 minute 5ks. I do hope to eventually run my tempo runs in the 8s, and my long runs in the 9s.

Here’s to moving forward, finding that balance, and accepting that the true gift is not ability, but motivation, because that’s what keeps us going, keeps us healthy, keeps us happy, and keeps us running this.

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1 comment

  1. I think a majority of the running community falls into the third category. I think those that are unmotivated just don’t stick with it, and the talented/motivated runners are more like elites. So that leaves the rest of us!

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