"I don't run to see who's faster, I run to see who's tougher." -- Steve Prefontaine
Like many runners, I went through a period where I was mildly obsessed with Steve Prefontaine. He was fierce, brave and, above all, tough. Looking at videos of his races, you see he just had more guts and at some point was prepared to suffer more. Most of us aren't out there doing that. We're just trying to keep in shape after sitting in an Aeron all day. Yet when I run, or nowadays swim and bike, I always think endurance stuff come back to toughness. It's not quite the same as persistence. Persistence is keeping at it, through thick and thin. But it's toughness that makes you feel OK with going beyond what's comfortable. At some point of a race, more is asked. My advice to marathoners like Lam before a race is always the same: Be tough.