Pre.

8.1.15

Some people live to tell stories with their mouths, others with their silence, and the rest? With their talents.

Steve Prefontaine: Vanity?
Bill Bowerman: Yes, vanity, Pre! Your belief that you have no talent is the ultimate vanity. If you have no talent then you have no limits, it’s all an act of will. Your heart can probably pump more blood than anyone else’s on earth, and that takes talent. The bones in your feet are so strong, it’d take a sledgehammer to break ’em. Be thankful for your limits, Pre, they’re about as limitless as they get in this life

Bill Bowerman: Running, one might say, is basically an absurd past-time upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning, in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team, chances are you will be able to find meaning in another absurd past-time: Life.

Bill Bowerman: All my life, man and boy, I’ve operated under the assumption that the main idea in running was to win the race. Naturally, when I became a coach I tried to teach people how to do that. Tried to teach Pre how to do that. Tried like hell to teach Pre to do that. And Pre taught me. Taught me I was wrong. Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort can win a race and a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn’t necessarily demand that he give it everything he had from start to finish. He never ran any other way. I tried to get him to, God knows I tried… but… Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. ‘A race is a work of art’; that’s what he said, that’s what he believed and he was out to make it one every step of the way.
Bill Bowerman: Of course he wanted to win. Those who saw him compete and those who competed against him were never in any doubt how much he wanted to win. But how he won mattered to him more. Pre thought I was a hard case. But he finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test to the limits of the human heart. That he did… Nobody did it more often. Nobody did it better.

-b

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