Tag Archives: running

Impatience, All you did was bring the end closer

High school cross country and track athletes run themselves into the ground because all they see is the end to their career in four years. Beyond that, most of them will never race again. I did the same. I ran until I could not physically run anymore but my perspective was even more stunted. I would look season to season. So I had three months to get into great shape and attempt to become one of the fastest runners on my team.

I would either lose motivation or get injured and sometimes both. At least when I became injured I was not able or allowed to run. And after maybe a week my interest and excitement would return with full vigor for the sport that I dreaded shortly before. I raced my best my sophomore year. I ran all my personal records of high school my sophomore year. I became accustomed to those speeds, times, and placings. I enjoyed the thrill and racing as one of the top.

Of course I got injured though. First it was iliotibial band tendonitis. My junior year the same injury plagued me on the opposite leg. And my senior year I topped it off with a completely torn ligament in my ankle and a stress fracture. Post injury I would come back with a burning desire to run my hardest and race those splits I could once reach. I didn’t want to accept the injury as an excuse to take it easy. So I ran even harder than I did before and the result was still the same. With the training load I took on, I was bound to get injured every time.

Between years I raced triathlon and cycling under my coach Michael’s leadership, coaching, and rules. I have yet to get injured over his guidance. He knows what he’s doing and better yet, my eye is on a long term goal rather than seeing the end of my career approaching way to quickly.

Fact is, I was never one of those high school prodigies. I showed up and ran 25 minutes for my first 5k. And yes, breaking one hour in a 10k was once a goal of mine. Beyond that I was never the guy that could train hard every day and expect results. I tried but I failed. I have always needed to train, back off, train, and back off again.

I suffer from a torn ankle ligament that I did not have enough patience to let heal. I still have regrets about running myself into the ground through high school. When I see most of my old teammates, they are busy running themselves into the ground in the other direction. Meanwhile I am a freshman in college, in the best shape of my life, have not had a drop of alcohol in my body since, well I forget, and I am running, cycling and swimming faster every year. And my goal is long term. And of course the goal of health and relationships is there, but I swear I can make it big. I sure want to and it seems my body is complying with this challenge.

This morning I ran a 10:59 2-mile. It was the first time I had run that race at that speed since my sophomore year. Yet now I am not lying to myself and I am not hiding inevitable injury. Now I am recovered and on a steady path to improvement. Fact is, high school distance running destroyed me for years. It broke my body, it shook tears out of me, and it turned all of burning desire to hatred of a sport that I claimed I loved.

My senior year, having been plagued with a stress fracture and a sprained ankle simultaneously, I did not return to the sport with burning desire. I remember walking into my much respected coach’s office and handing my jersey to him a folded paper grocery bag. I prayed he wouldn’t be in his office so I could just drop it off and walk away quietly from a four year career. But I had to walk in with my head held high and tell him how I could not do it anymore. Before, I  wore those colors with pride and enthusiasm. Now, I turned in as a sad, confused cripple.

That season they didn’t have enough uniforms to give to all the athletes. So the next day, another runner wore my singlet and shorts. Just like that, I was replaced. A spot opened up for another excited kid.

I pray that kid doesn’t have to go through what I did. I pray for the guys who I once ran beside and I especially pray for the guys who are still there. I pray for the high school guys on my triathlon team to keep patient and avoid injury. And I pray that no one is ever as impatient as I was.

No one but me is at fault for these sufferings and I do believe those injuries happened to help me grow. And I do think that the rush to get fast in four years is shared by most high school runners. But now, that troubled past is gone, my heart is bigger than ever and my peak lies a long way from now.

A different kind of test

Test day! No I’m not waking up at 6:15 to go take the SAT’s. My alarm wakes me for a much exciting type of test: VO2 max testing! Have you ever tried running or biking as fast as you can until you absolutely cannot hold that pace anymore? It’s so much fun and its so miserable.

I wear a mask that filters my breathing into a machine that measures my consumption of oxygen, hence volume of oxygen max test. Two years ago I matched Lance Armstrong. Tomorrow may produce different results. Wish me luck!

One

In the morning I race. Seven hours from now I will be out on the course hammering the life out of me trying to make it swimming, biking, and running over a distance faster than anyone else that day. It should be fun.

Third. That is the place I came in the race the last two years. First. That is the place I hope to come in tomorrow. Physical training from Endorphin Fitness, mental training from coach Dana Blackmer with The Extra Gear, and nutrition may lead me to a win. Of course that all relies on the other factor, desire. Willingness to suffer immense amounts of pain and stress on the verge of my body literally shutting down.

The saying “leave it all on the course” becomes true for me. At the finish of most races I either literally spill “it all” on the course, or I have truthfully left all my energy and effort on the course. Sometimes I fall, sometimes I faint, sometimes I just know that I could not have physically gone any faster.

Tomorrow I race. I’m beginning to hate that number three. I could get used to the number one though.

For now I run

My shadow is always faster than me. No matter what, he starts from behind, runs along side me for a moment, and then passes with no effort. I guess he is weightless after all, that probably helps.

The light taps of me feet fades from my attention easily. The taps are unnoticed by some and startle them. I pass by dogs in their fences without waking them.

I feel my shoulders loose, float back and forth, back and forth a thousand times.

My legs gently float underneath me and I simply glide on the surface of the road. Pit-pat, pit-pat. Effortlessly I pass by the silent world around me.

My light huffing can be silenced if I concentrate but its rhythm keeps me on track.

I run in the middle of the two lanes, staring into the distance. There are no cars. During the day I would be plastered on the road by now, probably no more than an inch thick. But now it’s peaceful. Between the streetlights I have no shadow. I run alone. Pit-pat.

People sometimes ask me if I get lonely. I simply remind them of how I was the baby that when woke, would lay in the crib for hours with no crying. I was the child that when I received a K-nex set for Christmas or my birthday, the construction would take place for hours straight, sometimes through the night, until the pieces formed a masterpiece. At school this year I had few refuges to which I could enjoy the company of solely myself. And even at home it seems the story is no different. In the city I cannot be alone while running unless I do it at night.

I am no hermit. I love people. I love company. But sometimes company does not need to be defined by human interaction. The world is a beautiful playground and our desire for constant interaction blinds us from that sometimes. If we are not with people, we are playing with our electronics. I admit I am just the same sometimes.

But for now I run alone. Some of the things I have seen humans do overwhelms me with fear. And for now I am incapable of grasping the corruption in the human race. So for now I run away. Maybe in time I will see. Maybe in time I will realize whether life is just a game like it seems through so many college students eyes. Life does not seem like a game though. It seems real, with real consequences, and real problems. So I wonder what my place is. Seeing as interaction is only bringing me stress, maybe solitude will bring an answer.