One of my favorite weekends in Chicago is the Chicago Marathon weekend. This usually happens the second Sunday of October. This year it was Sunday, October 9, 2016. People come from near and far to run this race because of the beauty of the course and the talent it draws in. The course stretches through many amazing neighborhoods of Chicago and has a long stretch along the magnificent lakeshore.
“Since the first Chicago Marathon took place in 1977, the number of runners has increased from 4,200 to 45,000, but the race has always been one of the largest marathon road races in the world, making it an obvious member of the World Marathon Majors.”
Every year, my goal is to see the leaders run by. You know, the guys who are running 5:00 minute miles like it’s easy. And the girls are not far behind them running about a 5:24 minute per mile pace.
In order to catch them, I have to wake up extra early in order to get a spot along the course that has a direct line of sight where the leaders will run by. This allows me to get the full experience find out this here. You know when the leaders are making their way down the straight away when you see the first glimmer of flashing lights from the police officers on their motorcycles. They are in charge of making a clear path for the runners. You will also see the truck that contains the running clock to keep the runners on track.
Click to view video of the before “light show”
Finally, in a matter of seconds, I am able to see the pack of leaders making their way down the straightaway. As they get closer I examine everything about them including their impressive figures, long strides, facial expressions, the focus in their eyes, their breath and their ability to make it all look effortless. I get chills every time I see this, and it brings me back year after year. I find that I don’t even cheer as they run by because I am so in awe in that moment.
Click image below to see video of the women leaders
Of course, these leaders are professionals and have been training since an early age with the goal of being the fastest marathoner in the world. They are the experts and definitely know how to pace themselves for a winning finish. However, I find myself always wondering how they run 26.2 miles without listening to music or podcasts? Not one of the leaders runs with headphones. Being the ultimate racing experts, they must have a reason right?
After I watch the leaders run by, I also like to see how much time passes until I see the first person with headphones. This year it was about 20 minutes, which means these folks are running about a 6:00 minute/mile pace, compared to the leaders pace of 5:01 minute/mile.
With some research, I have found that elite runners (5.01 minute milers) do not listen to music because it interferes with their concentration and performance. Elite runners need to be able to focus on the way their body feels, their surroundings, the deepness of their breath, their mental focus, and be able to hear their competitors every move. This allows them to slip into an almost meditative state throughout the 26.2 miles. These runners must be physically and mentally present to allow them to compete at their highest level.
Running without music also seems to be a safety precaution considering that the leaders tend to run very close together in packs and every stride or subtle movement counts.
It’s said that amateur runners use music as a way to escape from the run itself. (It’s hard to use the word amateur for anyone who can run 26.2 miles. Anyone that can run 26.2 miles no matter how fast, should get an award in my book). But, many Chicago marathoners use music as a way to distract them from the physical and mental demands of the race.
Overall, these elite marathoners make running their life’s purpose. It’s much bigger than just receiving a medal. They literally run their heart out every time and many use their winnings to build better communities and provide resources to the underprivileged. Their purpose is what gives them the focus, energy, and drive to win.
Bottom line is that if you find your purpose—it seems focus, energy, and drive will naturally follow, allowing you to perform at your highest level.
Not sure what your purpose is? Here are some questions to help you find it.
- What are your core values? What are some rules that you live by?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What were some of your favorite things to do as a kid?
- Is there an overlap between how you spend your free time and what you value?
- What would you do if money didn’t matter?
- What are you good at?
- What makes you unique?
- What do people say about you?
- What makes you happy? What kinds of things do you look forward to?
- What motivates you? What energizes you?
These questions will help you to find your passion and your passion will allow you to find your purpose.