Runners can sometimes be self-absorbed and a little too concerned with personal best or records. It's good to let go of the competitive edge and remember what it was like when you completed your first 5K or other runs. For me, that was more than 40 years ago! I don't recall the run but I'm sure it included big hair, long white cotton calf socks, clunky canvas shoes, short shorts, and probably a heavy cotton t-shirt. Running gear has come a long way since back in the day. Just ask those guys from a Sears ad.

What I do recall about my early 5K days was not the gear as much as the encouragement I got from other runners. I have had the privilege over the years of slowing down and returning the kindness other runners showed me when I was new to the sport.

Sometimes that's just encouraging them when they are struggling. Maybe you paced a runner to the finish line. Possibly it was when you let them pass you in the chute or moved one way so that the finishing picture was only of them. Other times it was something simple like making sure their bib is on the front of their shirt. During my one marathon, it was sharing my Pay Day during the race with a runner who had run out of energy!

Last Wednesday for Global Running Day, I had the privilege of being the pacer for my wife and her cousin; her cousin's first 5K! Our time to finish the race was not as important as the time we spent together finishing the race, encouraging one another, and sharing the experience. Congratulations to Patricia! I hope you have many more races.

So, at your next race, put aside trying to always set a new personal record or personal best. Instead, be a personal best by finding someone new to the sport and being an ambassador instead of a competitor.