Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Home Field Advantage

As a freshman in high school I started running cross-country. For the first time I was introduced to the many varying courses that wind through parks, parking lots, golf courses, soccer fields, and wherever else high school coaches could convince people to allow them to run races.

Our home course was everything that a cross-country runner could hope for in a race - no pavement, all winding trails outside of one or two open fields for start and finish, hardly any repetition, and small cuts as the trail winded along a river for a short while to make a more straight run... that is, if you knew them. One of my teammates had led me to believe that these little cuts were entirely fine to take, in fact, they were the home course advantage. Everyone's got them and we know and use ours. I should have known better.

It was not until our first real race with some guys where I realized that cross-country/running is not the kind of sport where people do that kind of thing - and if they do that sort of thing, that I do not want to be a part of it.

While running along the course I began taking these short little cuts, probably saving only a matter of seconds, but the guy running with me was getting annoyed. He finally said, "Hey do you mind not taking those little cuts? I don't know them." Wow!? In that one moment I realized what really mattered in running. It's not about finishing first or beating some other guy to the finish line. It's all about lining up and running the SAME course faster than the next guy. This realization helped me to see that taking short cuts, no matter how short or how long, were not for me.

I've never taken a cut in a race since then, even in moments of great temptation, because that's not who I want to be. Take it for what it is but I suppose winning a race never meant anything unless I knew I beat the guy legit on the whole course, nothing but the course, so help me God.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My to Have No Aim!

Lately I've been feeling like I serve my running as opposed to the other way around. I've just been a little burned out on constantly having a big goal and imposing deadlines on myself. I promised myself that when I got out of college I would stop doing that to myself. Back then I was so sick of always having a conference meet to peak for and a clock ticking on my training. I've let myself fall back into that mentality and for me it is time to stop.

The few years after college I found a nice rhythm where I was still serious about my running, but there was no pressure involved. I would run an average of 10 miles a day and still have some good intensity, but I would just race whenever I felt like I was in adequate shape. I'm trying to get myself back to that state of mind. I think I'm doing better. I've even allowed myself to miss a few days without getting depressed about it.

I know I sound soft, but I've always loved running because like life, you go through different phases and your priorities shift. I'm simply at a time in my life where I don't always want my running to dictate my bed time or schedule. I mean if I'm out on the town and feel candy in my heels, I'm going dancing all night long.

I'm still having fun with my running and I think I'm getting in pretty good shape. So I guess whenever I decide to toe the line we'll see if my laid back theory hurts the times or if relaxing a little bit will be better for the results.