Saturday, December 7, 2013

I'm a liar and a cheater

     I lied to my partner about "feeling horrible" a few months ago so I could sleep in.  Not only did I stand him up Thursday and Friday, but I also met with another guy Sunday morning!  Early mornings were our thing, but nevertheless there I was setting up the meet -up time and place with that other guy.  I could not stop myself despite feeling a little guilty.  Luckily he forgave me when I told him and we had a good laugh about it, but it got me wondering...Have you ever cheated on your running partner with another friend?  Were there jealously issues?   Were there tears?! 

     I train with one main person who keeps me motivated, and we go way back; however, there are also a handful of other guys that I run with for different reasons.  The newer runners are fun to meet up with for different reasons, because they are still learning about what they can do.  Showing them the ins and outs of running, and passing along all that I know is fun for me.  This is the only way I can talk about running with a captive audience.  They are too tired and winded to change the subject or disagree with my opinions.  Yes, I find enjoyment in this.  I just tell myself that they actually appreciate all that I have to say.  Surely they are quiet only because they don't want to miss the wisdom that will come out of my mouth next!

     Sometimes I train with these other guys for no other reason than pure convenience.  Our schedules are easy to coordinate, I enjoy their company, and we have similar goals.  It's just easy, and sometimes easy wins.  I've made a lot of friends this way and I am thankful to have learned from them as well.

     It is okay to train with multiple people or different groups to satisfy your selfish needs, but it is not okay to stand up your buddies.  From this moment I will not flake on a buddy so that I can get a little more sleep.  I will suck it up, drink some coffee, and take a nap later, but I will get up and run.

     Share with me a time when you lied to a friend about feeling sick or injured just to get some extra sleep.  Am I the only one?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Perfect Mile

The Perfect Mile
Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It
by Neal Bascomb

    I love this book!  The Perfect Mile is an amazing story about the first four minute milers and their quest to break this historic barrier.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about the success and tragedy of real people who achieve greatness through personal struggle and sacrifice.  Anyone who ever competed in the mile will especially enjoy the history lesson!

     The world wide focus and drama surrounding the four minute mile was as intense as was the quest to be the first to reach Mt. Everest's summit.  The book covers the personal lives and athletic achievements of three great distance runners, and the barriers each of them overcame to achieve such great success in running.  The American Wes Santee, the Australian John Landy, and Brit Roger Bannister display varying personalities, strengths, and racing tactics.  Each came into running from different paths and motivations, and I enjoyed reading the background story of each of them as much as I enjoyed reading about the historic race and final show down.  Bascomb takes the reader through the runners' childhood, discusses their first love of running, and then to their peak as the world's best milers.    I found myself rooting for all three men at different times as I learned more about them.  Their lives continuously intertwined throughout the story exciting me at the possibility of an imminent race among them.

     As a former miler and fan of track history I already knew the ultimate outcome of the story, but the book recreates the excitement of the historic achievement and keeps me turning each page with much anticipation.  I could almost see the race unfold in my head as the author tells the story about the race using great detail including each runner's split times!  The detail is impressive considering the time gap separating the race and the author's interviews.  A bit of history comes out making the story even more interesting when the events surrounding the runners' lives and the events happening around the world at the time of each race are mentioned.  This helps set the context as to just how great the achievement was at a time when the technology of running was just in its infancy.

     Bannister is a hero to Britain and brought national pride back to Britain during a tough time for his countrymen.  He was knighted shortly after his great achievement and traveled all over the world talking about his experience.  I compare Roger Bannister to the American Steve Prefontaine, and I find the parallels between Bannister and Prefontaine intriguing.  Both men talk about pain and how he who is best able to push past pain will win.
"The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win." Roger Bannister

     "A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more."  Steve Perfontaine

     The Perfect Mile is a perfect gift for any runner, and a great motivational read for yourself.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Beginner Runners

     Have you ever had a conversation with someone about running who hates to run?  I seem to have these conversations all the time, and I am starting to see a trend. I can almost guess with certainty how the conversation will go and what joke will be told at the end. The guys usually tell me that they have not run since high school football practice. Yes, I know the coach made you run a mile to make the varsity team. Yes, I know you hated it and you swore that you would never run again.  This part of the conversation is pretty much standard in Texas.

     From here the conversation goes one of two ways. Either they transition to their glory days in football, and end with how they cannot run due to an old football injury, or they make a joke about how they run only when chased or only when they run to the fridge to get a beer. These conversations typically never result in any further discussion about running, but that's okay.  These guys are not my target audience so I just laugh along and joke back.  Good times. 

     Every once in a while I talk with someone that gives me something to work with. A hook!  "I think I may pick up running.  Maybe I'll run the Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving...” At this point I am having a hard time letting them finish their sentence because I want to interject and scream "DO IT! RUNNING IS AWESOME.  I WILL HELP YOU TRAIN!"  This is my thing you see.  Talking about running, training, losing weight, juicing, triathlons, and sports in general, is what I do best.  
Here are some tips for those people out there that want to start running, but don't know where to start.

     Keep it simple and fun.  There is no need for a $600 GPS watch or heart rate monitor.  Learn some fun and safe routes on MapMyRun, research a few basic stretches, and buys some proper running shoes at your local running store. Most importantly, put an event on the calendar!  This last bit is some of the best advice I ever got about achieving goals.  When I am not working toward a goal I have a tendency to get lazy and sleep late on weekends instead of getting up and running ten miles.  It is amazing how motivating a goal can be.  Recruit a few mates for some friendly competition and BAM!  You're set.

Run/Walk method:  

     Several people I speak with mention they do the walk/run/walk method.  This is great for those who need to build their stamina before running 30 straight minutes, which I think is the first benchmark.  If this strategy relates to you then make sure you have a plan for eventually running continuously by slowly phasing out the walking.  Trust me, you can do it!  I know a lot of people who do the walk/run/walk method and they tell me it helped get them started.  Read this article by Amby Burfoot of Runner's World.  She lays it all out for you and says it much better than I ever could.  Another way to safely transition into running or to increase your distance is to walk at a quick pace for 15 minutes and then run non-stop for duration.  Start off running slowly! So slow that you become impatient, like you are being held back. You will be happy you held back later when you finish strong and with confidence.

     Remember, running is not an easy sport. It actually hurts and can be quite uncomfortable, especially in the beginning.  If it was easy then what would be the point.  Stick with the plan for two weeks and your body will adjust.  I find that Running mirrors life.  The things that are most enjoyable take time and effort to appreciate.  Running in no different.  As a runner, I enjoy a healthy lifestyle filled with continuous challenges.  Just as in life I experience setbacks, but that just makes the victories so much sweeter.

     Please share your personal experiences and tell me how and why you started running. I’d love to hear your story!

     Happy running y'all!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Training Partners

     Almost everyone who runs has had great training partners at some point in their life.  Perhaps when you were younger you had several on your junior high or high school cross country team.  These were your best friends.  You talked about family, school, work, and everything going on in your life.  The camaraderie in this group got you out of bed for early morning practices, encouraged you when your running or personal life was not going so well, and motivated you to work harder for the good of the team. 

     As the school years pass great training partners are harder to find.  Our schedules become harder to coordinate, our goals and abilities are not in line with each others', and we just do not meet that many new runners.  Think back to a time when you had a great training partner.  Why did this person come to mind?  Were they the best runner you knew?  The all-American track star in college?  No, for me the best training partners are not necessarily the fastest runners or the most accomplished.  They are easy to talk to, and just good people.  They made running fun.  What keeps us running together are the conversations we have while running.  We talk about what our kids said that was so hilarious, and what made us proud. We talk about our wives,  family, and work.  Everything except running!  These guys know more about me than most of my family and life-long friends know.

     Right now I am lucky to have a great training partner.  He and I have run together since junior high school.  We became great friends through high school and kept in touch in college.  Both of us ended up living in Austin where we still get together on weekends for long runs.  I am also lucky to have a great network of friends and family to compete with.  The guys pictured above are some of the most competitive I have ever known and motivate me each day to improve myself.

     Thanks guys.  You're the best.  Run Hard.