Consistency and the Pursuit of Excellence

Tyler McCandless

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle

 
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2:12:28 is what some would describe as an “excellent” marathon time, which was the 5th fastest time by any American in 2017.  Although I could not be more proud of that time, I’m most proud of the time and effort I put into achieving that result.

Nobody wants to hear that it’s going to take years of dedication, consistency, and a relentless pursuit of your goals until you achieve something you believe in, but such is the case in long distance running.  In November 2012 I joined the Boulder Harriers, a training group in Boulder, Colorado under the coaching of former marathon world record holder Steve Jones, who we affectionately call Jonesy.  At the time I joined the group, I was a 1:04:59 half marathoner and a 2:17:09 full marathoner.  There’s no secrets in Jonesy’s training –  is relatively straightforward hard work with repetitious workouts and long runs. The “secret” of the training is the dedication to long term goals and ambitions through the daily process.
After six months of more intense quality workouts than I’ve ever done before, I ran a big personal best half marathon with a 1:03:16. However, knocking significant time off the marathon takes the literal and figurative long run.  At the next USA Championship I ran 2:16, and followed it up the next year with another minute PR to run 2:15.  Although I was proud of running a PR, I firmly believed I was capable of much faster and kept that vision in my mind’s eye in workouts. Next came a few disastrous performances – a DNF at the USA Olympic Marathon trials and a 2:24 NYC Marathon in 2016.  Yet, each time I learned another valuable lesson, continued to improve my training, and make the “next steps” to that marathon I believed I was capable of.  I’m proud that the results may not have been excellent, but I remained steadfast on my pursuit of excellence in the marathon.
Crossing the finish line in Sacramento was an incredible feeling after years of hard work and both ups and downs in the process.  Embracing my incredibly supportive wife, Kristin, less than a minute after finishing the race with a USA flag drapped around me was the best moment of joy I can describe.  If anyone understands the ups and downs, and remaining consistent and confident, it’s Kristin.
There’s no elaborate workouts in this blog post description of a breakthrough marathon.  What is here is a reminder of the consistency required in the pursuit of excellence, and always believing in yourself that you have #ZeroLimits!
Tyler McCandless
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