Challenge of Running

A runner running in winter

This article was contributed by James C.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only soft bodies.” Bill Bowerman said it best. When Im at home enjoying the television, hearing the rain outside pour and pour; that feels like cozy weather, napping weather.

But when I’m outside, pushing through several miles, shivering under heavy soaked clothing, it doesn’t feel to cozy anymore.

A Winter to Remember

The winter of my senior year, I felt like the entire world had gone mad. That weather itself was out to destroy me! Everyday had to be colder than the next. So, in light of this, I became stubborn, and pushed through what ever came at me, up until I reached this utter physical and mental breakage. Now in spite of this, you would assume Id become wiser for it. That maybe, this circumstance could be avoided in the future. But unfortunately for me, I had a revelation. On one sunny evening in early February I was stretching before my workout, and it came to me. Quality over quantity. See in cross country, endurance is key, but you need also foot speed and stamina. In track, the 400m and 800m (my events) foot speed and stamina is key. You need speed and you need to be able to be fast for a long time. The 800 may seem more distance, but not quite where I lived, where the big boys played, it was nothing but a sprint to them. So when I say quality over quantity I mean going on shorter runs, and decreasing my times. Run shorter and faster. I felt like a freaking genius! Ofcoarse I had my speed workouts at the track, but I wanted to combine that into my endurance training. A hybrid frankenstein, of track workouts. Ok, so im not some revolutionary, trainer or anything but it was new to me and my body, and I was excited.

Also, A Summer to Remember

Running in the heat, is literally like having a monkey on your back, but you dont know it’s there, and gradually it wears you down till your nothing but a wimpy shell of your former self. My plan for this revolutionary training was coming off great. My times decreased, and my strength definitely increased. I think it was around early April I noticed things were getting a little tougher. My times steadied, and then eventually slowed down! Now you can understand i was pretty frustrated with that. So what does stubborn, moronic me do? Push harder. Little did I know that I was slowly crippling my legs. Rest should be the number one thing on a runners mind. Proper amounts of rest is important, or basically your screwed. I honestly can say that three weeks of my life, for about 3 hours a day, I felt like I was dieing. Pushing through the pain my times improved, I managed to even get some new pr’s in certain interval trainings. But man was I tired. Running became a chore, and thus my velocity fell and my willingness decreased greatly, I wasn’t the competitor I was anymore, and no matter what anyone tells you that is what you need overall everything, endurance, rest, stamina, foot speed are all second to the will to run and that sense of accomplishment we all get.

To the Future

The breakdown. It was a sunday evening, I was very tired running, most sundays are full of multiple workouts. Normally, I wake up early and run, workout after, run lightly in the afternoon, and then a full time run in the late evening. I was at the high school on the track doing mile intervals, because my second lap in the 800 was to slow, I needed to fix that soon. I believe it was the third lap on the fourth mile I started to falter. Cold sweat was pouring all over me, and the sun was so bright going around turn four, I couldn’t even look up. I noticed my toes started to skid on the track, and I tried to pick it up, but I couldn’t. Stopping is never an option (other than heat stroke), no matter what. You lose so much when you stop on a run. So I had to press on, my splits were well enough for that point in my workout, but that particular lap was terribly slow. I picked it up. Pushing and churning I felt every muscle in my body scream simultaneously. The final 200. Every runner I’ve talked to, speaks miles of the final 200m, in long races. Some say the final 100m is more important, because that’s when the runners fully kick and push out everything they have. But psychologically the last 200m is the monster. You dread the coming onslaught towards your body, but you don’t stop. Its almost as if your running to your doom, willingly! The last 200m puts the idea in your mind your going to have to push even harder than you already have. So their it was my final 200 meters. I was freaking out, but I didnt submit. I moved every gnarled, tightened muscle in my body, with extreme displeasure until I made it home. The line was sweet to cross, even if for just a second, but as soon I stopped I feared I had pushed to hard. That mile was 10 seconds faster than any of the other three, with a lap that was 12 seconds slower than any lap I ran that day! How I managed such a pushed, in the heat, with that monkey riding me, I don’t know, but I did manage a smile, well, before I passed out. I woke up about an hour and a half later on a picnic table next to the track. It was dark, and I had absolutely no idea where I was, slowly moved my aching body up, got in my car, and went home.

The break down was painful, and I was too sore to run for three days. But unlike this time, my body may have been destroyed, my mind was very much aware. I meditated on the scene, for hours focusing on what gave me such ability. It was just me, doing it for me that day. No track, no cross country, no angry coaches, or disappointed fans, I remembered for a second the actually reason I was running, and though im no to sure on it now, and im sure not alot of runners are, I knew the facts even if it was for that split second pushing down the last 200 meters. Endorphins would rolled through my mind and body with that acknowledgment and that’s exactly how I ran a 4:20 mile after 3 previous miles and eclipsed a personal best by 5 seconds. What runs through my mind about that day, is unbelievable. I’ll never be able to do that again, I know. But the once in a life time moments are why we do it everyday.