No one gives a 100% effort 100% of the time. The few people who know what 100% feels like know that it isn’t easy. Most are without the belief it takes to achieve greatness, let alone the effort therein.
Gladwell tells the story of a cross country race in which he, a thirteen year-old, dared to run with the top runner, a fifteen year-old. Already exhausted as he approached a hill, his coach gave a final command, “Now.”
I had done what everyone always says you are supposed to do as a human being. I had given it my all. And I realized that what everyone says you should always do was so painful that I never wanted to do it again.
Gladwell then tells the stories of Alberto Salazar’s running career and upbringing. As a sick child he climbed out the window to run without letting his mother stop him. As a young racer, he nearly died after having volunteered to block the wind for Bill Rodgers in a race. In his first race after hiatus and first ultra-marathon, Salazar settled on an insanely ambitious pace and managed to win.
Few of us have the courage to test what is possible, but with these stories in mind, how can anyone avoid the question? What does my best look like?