While his legacy lives on, so do his quotes. Possibly the most repeated running quote, and my personal favorite, is “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift.” Not only does this apply to running itself, but it can relate to practically anything anyone does, and I think that’s what makes this quote exceptionally unique.
The quote itself is seen everywhere. From posters and billboards to the fortune cookie following a delicious meal, Steve Prefontaine is a constant reminder in life of how lucky we are — how lucky I am — that I get the opportunity to enjoy the art of running every day; it’s a constant reminder to not take running for granted.
Whether it be the most popular quote in the world of running, I believe it can be misunderstood. To me, putting forth your best effort can mean several different things, and your best can vary from day to day. A day filled with a hard workout compared to a rest day both require your best effort. A hard day may mean you have to push yourself past your limits in order to get the most out of the workout, while an easy day may require you to practice the patience to not over exert yourself. Recovery days are important, so the best you can do is relax and enjoy yourself. When you put your best effort forth, you are utilizing the gift you’ve been given, and that is a beautiful thing; if not, you sacrifice that gift.
Prefontaine gave his best in not only running itself, but in the advancement of running throughout the world. The plaques on the streets and the statue downtown serve as a constant reminder to how important he was to the entire running culture and how he never sacrificed the gift.