Pre, Vanity and the Heart’s Limits


I watched the movie Without Limits this past weekend. Its a biography of Steve Prefontaine, the enigmatic running icon tutured by the great running coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon. Steve was known as “Pre”. I liked it. I had heard a little about Pre, how he had been a phenom at a young age and died at a young age but the movie told a fictional tail of things that might have happened in an effort to explain who Pre was.

It was the right time for me to watch this particular movie because I am once again frustrated with my lack of progress at becoming a faster runner in races. It feels to me like there are limits and the movie, thought titled Without Limits, is actually about limits. I have been chastening myself about my racing because I just don’t have “the heart” to push myself to faster race times. Actually that turns out to be exactly what is going on. Running is completely limited by the heart and what it can do, how quickly it can move blood through the body and exchange waste for nutrients and oxygen. The limit of the hearts ability in me to do this is the limit of my ability to run faster, farther.

The movie explored whether or not Pre was limited by other things, like his own vanity. I guess it’s my own vanity that even keeps me wondering if I can become a faster runner. Why else does a middle aged human run thousands of mile a year, hills, track work, fartleks, all in an effort to deduct a few seconds from his mile pace at a  5k race with 300 participants, most of whom are only occasional runners?

I will be content with the vanity of my running pursuits but remain discontented with the limits of my heart.