At the start of any race a common refrain among runners is “I just don’t want to finish last”. I understand this mindset. The idea that even if you are not close to winning, you just want to finish decently is an easy concept to get behind. Yet I do want to finish last.
I never have finished last in a race, but I have tremendous respect for those who do. Anyone who finishes last is clearly struggling to complete the race, yet manages to do so. Arguably you could say that the person in last place is pushing themselves closer to their limit than anyone else in the race.
Last year I completed my first triathlon. I finished towards the back of the pack. Yet I wasn’t disappointed with myself, but instead I was glad that I had finished my first triathlon. There were still another handful of individuals who struggled even more than I did in order to complete the course.
As much as I would like to improve upon the races that I have already proven as being able to complete, I also want to push myself farther and try to complete races that I don’t have any prior experience in. If I can barely complete a race to the point that I finish last than I can know that I am really pushing myself to my limits.
This isn’t saying that I am going to stop running in shorter races that I know I can complete, but that my training is going to focused on the events that take well over an hour to complete. While most people will focus on the word “last” here, I also want to point out the importance of the word “finish”. The goal is not to drop out of races, or to be unable to complete the course, but to cross the finish line having done something new.