The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

 

When I was in high school, I attended a track camp. Sort of like band camp, but we ran instead of played instruments. The name of the camp was The Mighty Burner Speed Camp. It was a pretty unique camp, not just because of its name, which might sound intimidating to some, but because of the four camp coaches. They were the members of the United States’ 1,600-meter relay team that competed at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The four athletes who each ran a 400-meter leg of the relay were the fastest 400-meter runners of their generation—Vince Mathews, Ron Freeman, Larry James, and Lee Evans. Together at the Olympics, they won the gold medal in the 1,600-meter relay and set the world record of 2 minutes and 56.16 seconds, which stood for twenty years.

A man of words as well as fast legs, Larry James had a saying for us impressionable high school runners at his camp which, I found out years later, he borrowed from psychologist and author Stephen Covey: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

“What’s the main thing?” he asked us, as we collected as a group on the track. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” we responded in unison.

“What’s the main thing?”

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

“What’s the main thing?”

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Running directs your efforts, helping you to keep the main thing the main thing. There’s nothing like a long run to put the issues in our lives into perspective. We worry about things that don’t happen; we waste our time on things that don’t matter; we follow paths that lead to dead ends. Running puts us on the right path. It directs us toward a life of meaning. And it helps us get more done.

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