Tag Archives: Motivation

I’m Ready to Grow Young Again

We made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat no surrender
Like soldiers in the winter’s night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender

Now young faces grow sad and old and hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
I’m ready to grow young again

– No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band

Are you scared about something? Are you worried about the future? Worried about this new generation of kids? Scared that a bunch of young punks have marked you for their next Knockout victim? Maybe you felt sadistic (and old fashioned) and decided to read the newspaper? I understand. The world is a big and scary place run by younger and younger people. It moves ever faster and chaotically. It takes you to heights up in space you are not comfortable with and then drops you in a free fall back to the cold hard Earth. It hurtles you through the air. It offers no help as you crash land. It’s changing. Quickly. It’s a nasty, nasty world.

Where can you go to find the one thing you and I and all of us need? I have a place. You can come. You should come. It’s in the belly of the beast. You will be surrounded by the enemy. Everything you fear will be present: speed, chaos, aggression, pain, them. Everything you need will be there too: hope.

You need to attend a high school State Championship Track & Field Meet.

First, you need to be aware that you will immediately, upon arrival, be surrounded by hundreds of them – teenagers.They will be dressed weird. Some will have shorts, short ones too. Others will have tights, tight ones. They will have knee socks, no socks, hot pink socks you name it. They will all have colors, like a gang. Some will wear blue and others red, still others green and others yellow and purple. They will stick together tight. They have gone through their own initiation rites daily for months to be a part of this, together. They know things about each other, have experienced things together that make you and all not wearing those same colors an outsider. It can be intimidating – hundreds of them.

Don’t leave.

They are willing to do dangerous things without hesitation. They will launch 12, 14, sometimes 16 feet in the air with only their own confidence as protection. They will run as fast as they can straight at a series of barriers and fight the urge to stop or even jump, instead running through and over so they can give something back, something to their gang, their family. They will sprint around the sharpest turns in the midst of rivals decked with little blades on their feet. They will suffer minute after minute as they grind long distances knowing the suffering will only get worse and understanding that their months and years dedicated to those daily initiation rites with their closest friends has been not to hold off this pain but rather to take more of it on at this moment.

They will bump and push and jostle. They will win. They will lose. They will fall, sometimes hard. They will bleed. They will heave. They will lose skin. They will scar. Some will have everything on the line and seemingly all the pressure in the world on their young shoulders. Others will line up with only the promise they gave when they put on their colors that they would give it all. Some will come up short. Some will rise far above what they dreamed possible. Some will cry.

They are young. And strong. They are nervous and jittery. They are cocky and terrified. They know you are watching. Keep watching.

They could be somewhere else. They could be at home, asleep. They could be at the mall. They could be playing video games. They could be doing something, anything that lets them relax and be comfortable. They could be doing other things. Bad things. They could be. But, they are not.

They are there to make themselves as uncomfortable as they can be in order to achieve something. They are there to fight against themselves and the world around them. A voice from within that doubts them. A voice from within that tells them to care less not more. A world that constantly tells them that they should always be comfortable. A world that tells them that they will always win and never lose. A world that tells them there will be medals for everyone. A world that tells them to risk is to fall. Never hurt. Never scar.

They are here, in front of you, to compete against all of that. They do that by training, by dedicating days and months and years of toil to this single purpose: to compete for and with their teammates, their family, their gang. And they will battle against the other teams, families and gangs. They will put all of their vitality and youth into that battle. They will be nervous, loud and aggressive. Some call that scary. So, they will be scary.

Go to a track meet. Watch those scary teens knock each other down and pick each other up. Watch them take all they have, all they have worked for and put it on the line. Watch them risk total failure. Watch them be all in. And watch them attempt and sometimes achieve greatness amidst each other, because of each other.

When the great carnival that is a Track & Field Championship is over you may realize that one of the things that makes this world so scary is not in fact them. It is us. Maybe the world got scarier once we stopped jumping and sprinting and throwing and hurting and risking so much – once we stopped doing all those things that scared us and in turn reminded us that we were alive, that we had potential and that in order to realize that potential we needed to take on our fears.

These kids, these young athletes, they are not fearless. They are merely brave. Once, they were you and I. Youth is not wasted on the young, but it can be wasted on us. Maybe it’s time to look up to and not down on those teenagers, time to be a little bit more like them instead of trying to turn them into us. It’s time to get back on the track or in the circle or on that runway and take some risks.

We thought we would always remember. Didn’t we promise ourselves and each other that we would not forget, that we would hold on to those things that kept us young and scary.

Well, we forgot.

It’s time to be brave again. It’s time to be young again.

Start with a run, a jump, or a throw. That’s what these kids would do.

What I Know I Know Because of Running

I did not know what to write about. I thought about the Millrose Games. Incredible meet, nice additions to the TV coverage, some solid commentating by a few, and some horrendous commentating by others. I decided that I had little to offer or at least I had little motivation to offer what little I had to offer. So, I will get to Millrose and the good and bad of major meet coverage another time. USA XC Championships was another option. I love me some XC ya’ll. But, I passed on that too. XC in February is weird to me. College racing this past weekend was pretty hot. Some exceptional Indoor 5k’s were had and not just on the West Coast. Did I really want to write about that? Nah. I was stuck. So, what does one do when one can’t think of anything to write about? One writes about himself.

I figured I’d pass on some of what I’ve learned over the years about this sport and from this sport. Whatever I write is not in order of importance nor should it be viewed as anything resembling a final list or even a good list. I plan on writing whatever comes to me. Coherence may take a back seat if it gets a ride from me on this one at all. Buckle up.

Things I Have Learned About and/or From Running

Part I

(In no particular order as mentioned above)

Quitting is never a good idea. Ever. Stopping is OK. Retiring is OK. Quitting is not OK.

Beyond Hot Buffalo Wings with an extra side of 911 Sauce should not be eaten after 5 PM if you plan on doing an AM run. If you are a morning coffee drinker then said wings should not be eaten after 1:30 PM the day before an AM run.

Never fall in love with your socks. You never know when you may have to leave them behind. Pun intended.

Run early. Run late. No matter what set a date. I have been running for a long time. I have skipped alot of runs. Too many. So I know how best to set up a run that won’t happen and how best to set up runs that will happen. Pick a time. Pick a place. Be specific. Then do it. Short of that you have a 50-50 chance of success happening 50% of the time.

Gimmicks don’t work unless they do. I’ve tried some. Some work because they do. Some don’t work because they don’t. Others, well, it’s up to you. And if you believe that the magnetic bracelet or double shot of espresso is a small part of your success then you hitch your wagon to that star. Just remember that it is a small part, a very small part of any success you experience. You are the main ingredient not your sweat wicking headband in the recipe for success. The same goes for your failures too. Your the owner.

Eat something before you race. Eat something after you race. Just make sure practice eating something while you run before you eat something while you race

Water is your friend. Watered down gatorade is a good friend. A cold can of Coca-Cola after a hard run is something worth living for.

Watermelon, after a day in the fridge, cut in half, on your lap with a spoon in hand is a perfect post Summer run meal. Do it. Try to disagree.

Running in the intense cold can be fun and exhilarating. Running in intense heat can lead to dizziness, loss of bowel control, and death.

Once you get out of the long shorts and into the short shorts it is hard to go back. Once you then leave the short shorts and go back to the long shorts it is even harder to go back to the short shorts. Have not made it back to the short shorts to add another line of deep truth here.

The treadmill can be an incredible run if you have the right music. Arcade Fire can help you run the rotor off the damn machine.

Don’t run on a treadmill with the wrong music. Tarzan Boy is a great song when you are not running. Tarzan Boy while on the treadmill has ended runners careers.

Great runners are great runners. That is it. And that greatness does not translate to equivalent awesomeness on a bike or in a pool. Be careful not to extend your ego you earned running into those other arenas against swimmers and cyclists. They will rip you to shreds.

You can run more.

You can run faster.

The Milers are studs. Milers should not race in half tights though.

The first step is the hardest. The next step is hard too. After that? Depends on the run. Sometimes every step is hard. Sorry.

Sometimes your run will be magic. You will float. Time will disappear. You will believe you can do things you have never done before. Sometimes you are alone on these runs and sometime you are running with others. These runs are great. They stay with you. Even if you can’t remember them, they are there. They are stored in your muscles for use during long and dark winters when inspiration cannot be found.

Sprinting is something that we stop doing when we get older. We shouldn’t stop sprinting.

If you want to truly enjoy participating in this sport you have to be a fan of this sport. Watch the Elites race and train and you will gain respect and lose fear.

Road races are fun but too many people only try to finish them instead of trying to race them.

Running will break your heart.

Running reminds you that in order to live you need to be open to failing and maybe even having your heart broken.

Running can heal a broken heart.

Broken hearts heal stronger than before.

Sleep. Get some. You need it. Your running needs it. I need it. Now.

Good night.

This One Goes to Eleven

One can find inspiration and insight wherever one wants – even in Spinal Tap.

This scene is only one of so many classic scenes that can be found in This is Spinal Tap . The movie is the first rockumentary, really a mockumentary about the heavy metal band Spinal Tap. The movie, the band, the music are all ridiculous and brilliant . You may have seen the movie and know all of this. But, did you know that if you watch it the right way or maybe just a different way This is Spinal Tap is also a movie about running.

Go with me on this.

A fictional band from England, Spinal Tap had their ups and downs and downs and downs. They experienced a few hits and the fame that came along with it during the good times. They experienced tough times too. A drummer spontaneoulsy combusting on stage (happens more than you think) had to have been rough on the guys! But they carried on show after show in smaller and smaller arenas. The size of the crowds or lack of crowds at their shows never dictated the effort they put into their rocking. They believed that they could not only get back to their former heights, which were not so high, but also reach even higher. They believed they could reach that great stage they set out for so many years ago.

As runners we are forced to set goals. Every time we start a run there is a goal – maybe even many goals. Run 5 miles. Run 10 miles. Average 6 minute pace. Hammer the hills. When we race it is the same, just more serious. Finish in top 10. Finish in top 100. Maybe just finish. Beat Mick. Beat Viv. Set a course best. Set a personal best. Goals and goals.

For awhile these goals get bigger, more impressive. We can train harder, hurt longer, run faster. The goals mirror these truths and we find ourselves training and running our best. During these periods, these good times, it’s easy or at least easier to take on the suffering and sacrifices of training and racing. Every time we take the line we may do something better than we ever have before! How can it not be easy and exciting? We can forget to embrace these periods while we are in their midst. We are so focused on achieving the next goal that we don’t stop, take that encore bow and soak it all up.

We concentrate on getting the next run in, workout done, race scheduled, anything that keeps us from getting in the way of the momentum. We don’t know how long a great stretch of running is going to last, when it is going to end. But those stretches do end. Sometimes the runs don’t get done easily. The exhilarating workouts with all the splits getting hit become exhausting workouts with all of the splits getting missed. Before, that hurt had to come to terms with you. Suddenly you have to come to terms with being hurt. When healthy and rocking it’s hard to really remember those times when you were hurt and every step was pain. It can be difficult to remember when any step without pain was a gift and just how awful it was to not be able to run. Why remember or draw attention to those tough times when every stride is coming easily, every race is a success, every show is sold out. Why think about those dark days?

Because those struggles are part of the tour. Those periods and moments are a part of the music you are playing and will play.

We shouldn’t only enjoy running or think we can only learn and improve when we are running well, or fast or better than ever. Spinal Tap knew this. They saw the bad times as nothing more than stumbles on their way to the top. Sometimes they simply ignore all the (overwhelming) evidence that shows they are failing, epically failing – every show in Boston gets cancelled, at least it’s not a college town.

The good and the bad times, both, inspired their music. The shows were not always sold out. They didn’t always get top billing. In fact, sometimes, even though Jeanine told them…

Jeanine: Uh oh. If I told them once, I told them a hundred times – Spinal Tap First. Puppet show last.

Derek Smalls: It’s a morale builder, isn’t it?

It was never all about the times was it? It was never all about the medals. Not really. It was about the the music you made. The sound of your shoes striking and leaving the ground, your breathing – labored or effortless – beautiful all the same, the pounding flicker- fast beat of your heart while hard at work or the heavy and powerful sleepy slow ba-booms of your heart while blissfully at rest. Running was never always about the competition or the number on the stick you got in the chute. If it was, then your love for this would be focused on things outside of you and that means they can leave. Yet, you know, that love for this sport begins and is centered inside you, where the melody and the rhythm reside.

It has always been about the music and everything good and bad should find its way into that music. Once in awhile get away from the PB’s, and the gear, and the medals and ribbons and expensive races. Be alone – and take care to listen to the run, to you. Hear the music you make for you.

So, when the runs get slower and those hills getting hammered get changed to the hills hammering you – keep running. Keep grinding up that slope. You may not be headlining the EnormoDome like Duke Fame is right now. Maybe you’ll never be headlining there. Not ever. It might be gigs at the Music Temple. And those gigs may be cancelled too. But play on brothers and sisters, there is always Japan.

If you do that you will know the greatest lesson Spinal Tap has for us band of runners – you can always rock out louder than ever. It may not be a lifetime best, it may not be the yearly best or the best anything. But it can be loud and powerful. You can turn that volume way way up on yourself.

Nigel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…
Martin: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel: Exactly.
Martin: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Martin: I don’t know.
Nigel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Martin: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Martin: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
[Pause.]
Nigel: These go to eleven.

I know exactly what Nigel is talking about. Sometimes ten just is not enough. Sometimes, when you’re playing guitar, running a race, living your life – you have to go to eleven.

Johnny Track & Field

My favorite baseball player is Don Mattingly. He was the first baseman for the NY Yankees from 1984-1997. He is now the Manager for the NL Champion LA Dodgers. Many of us Mattingly fans refer to him as Donnie Baseball. Mattingly was the AL MVP in 1985 when he averaged .324 with an AL leading 48 doubles and 145 RBI’s. He was the best defensive first baseman of his era winning the Golden Glove 9 times. He was absolutely brilliant in the batters box. He had both power and discipline. He once hit homers in 8 straight games, a Major League Record. In one three year stretch he hit 96 home runs and only struck out 114 times! Amazing stuff.  He even rocked a mustache. He was The Captain of the Yankees. He respected baseball and played the game the right way. For a young Yankees fan during a dark time for the franchise (the Yanks stunk when I was a kid) he was the one guy in pinstripes that kept the fire burning. He was the Yankee that gave us hope and pride. He seemed destined to someday take his place in Cooperstown in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Injuries derailed his career. A bad back made Mattingly’s last few years not only painful for him but painful for his fans to watch. He only knew how to give everything he had but the injuries meant he couldn’t play his best. He retired in 1995 having never played in a World Series. The Yankees won the World Series in 1996. They won in 1998 too. They won in 1999 and 2000 also. His shortened career has not been enough to get Donnie Baseball in the Hall of Fame. It just does not seem fair. I thought of Mattingly the other day as I read about a runner that I looked up to during that same time.

John Trautmann was a complete stud in HS. He ran for Monroe-Woodbury High School of New York graduating in 1986. He set still standing NY Sophomore Class Records when he ran 4:11.8 for 1600m, 9:08.61 for 2 Miles, 32:02 for the 10k and 12:29 at Van Cortland Park. He would run 12:18 his senior year at VCP on a course that had at best terrible footing. He set an overall NY record when he ran 8:05.8 for 3000m in the 1986 Penn Relays HS Boys 3k. That is still the Boys Record at the Penn Relays. He was a beast.

Trautmann took his fleet feet to Georgetown University to run for legendary coach Frank “Gags” Gagliano and the Hoyas. His excellence continued at Georgetown. Trautmann was the NCAA Outdoor 5,000 meter Champion and ran the lead-off 1200m leg on the World Record setting distance medley relay at the 1987 Penn Relays. He anchored the Georgetown DMR in 1991 with one of the fastest splits, 3:55.3, ever at Penn. He utterly dominated the Big East distance events while he was a Hoya. He was an animal.

After Georgetown he continued his tear. He ran a great 13:20 for 5k when Americans simply were not great. He was the #1 ranked American at 5000m in 1992, an Olympic year. He won the Olympic Trials that year hammering past the great Bob Kennedy. The Barcelona Games looked to be a breakout stage for Trautmann. Then he got hurt. His forefoot/toes were in excruciating pain. His training suffered. He could not even finish his semi-final heat in the 5k. He had to stop. The injury never really healed. The pain never left. In fact, it started to affect his achilles. As a runner few could run with and through pain like Trautmann. But, there is a difference between hurting and being hurt. I would find out about that difference a few weeks after an injured and dejected Trautmann walked off the 1992 Olympic track.

As my favorite baseball player was showing up for work every day in pain and one of my first running heroes was limping more than he was running I got injured for the first time in my young running career. I got a stress fracture in 1992. Then I got mono in 1992. Then I severely hurt my hip flexor in 1993. My favorite athletes were hurt. I was hurt. They were not getting any better. I was. I  used them as inspiration. They helped get me out the door to do those 5 minute and then 10 minute and then 20 minute training runs as I tried to come back because I knew they were fighting to get back. They helped get me through those early bad races which turned into mediocre races which soon enough became good races because I knew they were not at the top of their game but they still showed up to play, to race, to train. I watched Mattingly play in pain on WPIX. I saw Trautmann race,injured, at the Colonial Relays at William and Mary in VA. He was limping so badly. I could tell he wanted to be able to do it, without that pain. I remembered what that had been like only a few months earlier for me. I was healthy though. He was still hurt.

They kept trying, until the pain simply became too much. Mattingly retired just as the Yankees re-established their dominance of baseball. Trautmann, the injury not healing, stopped running. A few of Trautmann’s competitors’ especially Bob Kennedy, Steve Holman, Mark Croghan, Rich Kenah, and Todd Williams carried the torch of American distance running. They bridged the gap between the American Distance Running Dark Ages of the 1990’s and the current American Golden Age. Trautmann should have been one of those guys. He might have been the best of the group. He might of been Track & Field Hall of Fame material, a world beater.

He still might get his chance

Trautmann is back. He is healthy, at least healthy for John Trautmann. He is training with Gags again. He is racing in New York again. He is 45 years old. He’s a Master’s runner and he just ran 4:22 for the mile. The World Record for 45 year olds is 4:16.83. He is having his second act.  The focus this Indoor Track season has been, and rightly so, on up and coming studs, American Records falling and runners leaving this sponsor for that sponsor. I’m hoping we have the room for one more great story.

John Trautmann could see the mountaintop back in 1992. It was there, so close, when he dominated the US Olympic Trials 5k. Injury kept him from reaching the apex. He had to walk back down, limp back down really. Most people, once they put in all that work, all those years of effort, after they experience such a setback may keep the trainers out but will pack up the spikes for good.  Trautmann has decided, after leaving the sport and gaining 72 pounds, after working as a successful bond trader, after having multiple foot surgeries, to go after it all again. He never quit. He stopped. Now, he has started again. In a terrific season of Track & Field where we will have Rupp looking to break 3:50 in the mile, Mary Cain and Alexa Efraimson shattering HS records, the Brooks Beast 4×800 trying to set a World Record at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix I have to admit my loudest cheering will be saved for John Trautmann. I’ve owed him for a very long time for inspiring me to come back from injuries; to never give up. He’s reminding me of those lessons again. Now, it’s time to pay him back. I may not be able to put on a Dodger’s jersey for Mattingly, that is asking too much. But this Tar Heel can put on a Georgetown hat, head to the NYC Armory, stand along the rail on that back straightaway and cheer like hell for one of the best who never had a chance to be the best. Until now.

Look out world. Hoya Saxa!

Trautmann will be racing in the Master’s Mile at the NB Indoor Grand Prix Meet in Boston. You can get the info you need on this great meet by clicking here.

Repeats

I had the opportunity today to run down Memory Lane. I coach now. I still run. Just not like I did. Not as much as I did. Not as fast as I did. But every once in a while the kids I coach ask. What was the toughest workout? What was the hardest run? What was the fastest you ran a 1500? 5k, 10k, 800, 400, 8k? What was the best, worst, greatest, most miserable, painful, exhilarating?

Why did you stop?

I love it when they ask. Who wouldn’t? I get to go back in time. I get to relive some of the most important moments of my running life, really my life period. Today’s conversation was inspired by the awesome workout that Galen Rupp did on the Boston University track 15 minutes after his American Record 2 Mile. I never did anything even remotely close to what Rupp did. But I had my moments.

What I find fascinating is that my favorite memories to talk about are not the races. The workouts I did are what I like to talk about best. In fact, I only remember the briefest of snippets of my races, good and bad. Although I do remember far more of my worst ones than my greatest! It’s funny just what we decide to store away in memory isn’t it? It just seems odd to think that those workouts that seemed so gruesome at the time would hold such sway after all these years. I’m remembering a particular workout that I did in 2001 with some of my teammates on the Nike Farm Team when Vin Lananna was coaching us. We did an entire set of repeats. A full workouts worth. To be precise we did 2 x 800 then a 600, 400, another 600, another 400 and 4 200’s before one last little addition to the workout was mentioned by Lananna. We assumed the work for the day was done. It was not.

Lananna told us to get on the line. 200’s. more 200’s? Ok. Not a problem. A 200m interval if you are fit, really fit (which we were), is akin to batting practice for a major leaguer. You can do them just about all day. No fear.

Lananna filled us in on what we were to do to end the workout

You’re going to do 200’s. You’ll have 20 seconds rest.

Ok. That was new.

29 second 200. 20 seconds rest. Then a 28 second 200 .

This was taking a very different turn from where we thought we were going. We asked the obvious question, really the only question that mattered – How Many??

Just keep doing them until I tell you to stop.

We did 8. One of us did 10. Not me. 200’s were never the same for me after that. They were once the cute and cuddly repeat distance. Now they were something else. I experienced real distress that day. The 200 was not even the worst part. It was the rest that was so miserable. 20 seconds is just enough time for tired legs to start to feel like crap. Heavy, dead, crappy legs. Legs that needed to start moving again too soon and too fast. I hit the times for the most part. I kept the rest at 20-22 seconds. But it burned. It hurt – bad. I miss that.

I ran for 3 more years after that workout. Competitively. By 2004 though my body was having a tougher and tougher time staying healthy doing such intense work. I had given post-collegiate running a chance for close to 5 years. I stopped. It was time.

I can still get those feelings I got from that workout though. The times that cause that burn and hurt are slower. It takes fewer intervals too. But when I get there and the legs get heavy and the breathing begins to labor and my wheels start to fall off I enjoy it. I’m traveling back through time. Back to a place where I was young and fast. I was unafraid of speed. I was excited about great distances.

Then I’m back here and I’m laboring now on a run or I’m just telling a group of young runners about those 200’s. They get it. They are living and running those 200’s now. That is great. I’m happy to know that this sport keeps getting runners to take that line, hurting, and start another repeat and keep on going until it’s time to stop.

Until it’s time to start again.

It’s Snowing Big. Let’s Save Running A Little.

It snowed. Looking outside now it seems like blizzard would be the best description of what transpired these last 12 hours. It’s absolutely stunning out there. It’s also cold out there. In here it’s warm, pleasant really. In here, the fireplace is a roaring inferno courtesy of a Duraflame log. Excessively descriptive, I know. But the last thing I want to do is give anyone the wrong impression. We may meet someday and with me writing about saving this and saving that I don’t want you expecting a guy who chops his own wood. What disappointment you would feel. No, better that you know I buy it by the case. And I struggle, mightily, when I lug the box of enhanced logs to my car through the Acme parking lot.

This snow has many of us in the Northeast trapped. Driving right now would not be smart. Running on the roads is out of the question. If you have a bike or a treadmill you best be putting it to use. And after that? You can only drink so much hot chocolate. I already binge watched every episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix. I could watch that Oregon Project post race workout on Flotrack again. Nah. How about we help save running? Help save it a little bit? Will ya?

Was that an echo or a roar of affirmation? Since this seems to be entirely up to me I will go with the latter. Sounds like you’re all in. Great. You need to be. We need to be.

Where to start? Anywhere, really. There are so many different ways we can help save and strengthen the sport. Which is good as well as depressing. Luckily I have thought this through and as a result I am prepared to narrow it down. I’ll just spin my Track & Field Circle (should be an oval) of Those in Need of Help and we’ll see where it stops….

It landed on the Running Mouths. They are the writers, the broadcasters and the bloggers. We (running fans) have some truly exceptional journalists on television, in print and online covering Track & Field. The first thing we can do is aknowledge who they are. Ato Boldon, Steve Cram, Tim Hutchings, Toni Reavis, and Steve Ovett are outstanding television commentators. They handle the flow of a race and the color needed to not only keep the viewer interested but also educated. More importantly the schooling these broadcasters give is not an elementary education. Most Track & Field broadcasters believe they have to explain running to an audience of meatheads. Newsflash! Meatheads are not watching the broadcast! We wish they were but they are not. We’ve made it too boring for them to watch. And even if they did watch they would not like being talked down to. If only the meatheads could listen to a meet with the right commentators. Boldon, Cram, Hutchings, Reavis and Ovett understand that the competition will do the majority of the work for them. They are there to add insight, commentary and maybe some expert opinion on the direction we should be taking this race. Each race has and is a story. The best commentators introduce the characters, set the stage, and then act as the narrator. These five get it.

Tim Layden and Dick Patrick, Curtis Anderson and Chris Lear are some great print journalists. They write about the sport for people who want to read about the sport. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But try to read an article about a race, any race at any level – high school to Olympic – written by someone who does not get it. It’s torture. It turns people away. It further delegitimizes a sport that comes across increasingly as illegitimate. With Layden, Patrick, Anderson and Lear the sport gets the respect it deserves when their ink hits the page.

How do you save Track & Field with this information? Contact these guys. I gave you the websites or Twitter handles for most of them. Tell them that you appreciate what they do. Better yet, follow them. Read their articles. Buy their books. See when they are commentating. Watch. Listen. Read. Enjoy. Just don’t stop there.

Make sure you let NBC, NBC Universal, BBC, ESPN, ABC that these are the ones you want to see back again and again telling the story. Let’s make that as easy as possible. Here are a few big hitters for you to start with.

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NBC Universal Sports, which was formerly known as World Championship Sports Network (WCSN), shows many of the elite European Track & Field meets. They have the following on their website:

Have suggestions, feedback or comments about the Network? Contact our Universal Sports Customer Support Line at 1-818-593-3978 and your call will be directed to the appropriate department.

Call. Thank them for showing Track & Field. Tell them you want MORE Track & Field and Running. Tell them you want the best commentators. Tell them. It’s one phone call. It matters. Everything matters.

While you are at it you might as well contact ESPN and tell them you want more Track & Field on ESPN 1,2,3, all of them, as well as more coverage in their magazine.

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Sports Illustrated was once a magazine that actually covered sports and not just basketball, baseball and football. You could count on a couple of covers every year that had a Track & Field athlete on it. No more. Let them know that you want our sport back in the magazine! Write the editor of Sports Illustrated a letter, a long one or a short one. Just write one.

You can use this email: letters@si.timeinc.com

Simple enough.

Was that so hard? No, I didn’t think so.

Now, imagine that you passed this along to two running friends. Then they each passed it to two more. Then those four passed it to two each. Then those eight passed it along to two each. All we would need is for that next group to pass it along to two friends each and NBC Universal Sports, ESPN and Sports Illustrated would each get over 120 messages TODAY asking politely for more and higher quality Track & Field, Cross Country, and Road Racing coverage! Steve Cram, Ato Boldon, Tim Hutchings and Toni Reavis would also gain 120 new followers on Twitter as well as 120 new readers of their blogs and articles.

What if we kept sending this info out? If 40,000 can commit to training for and then completing 26.2 miles through the streets of NYC and 500,000 teenagers can take to the line each year to race the mile I have to believe we have enough kindred spirits out there to rattle some cages.

Do you have a local newspaper? Do they cover Track & Field? Probably not. Write them. Enlist your friends to write as well. Do you read any of the Track & Field or running blogs out there? You should. Check out these two to start:

The Track & Field Superblog

Elite 800m Runner Phoebe Wright’s Blog

The snow will melt. The Duraflame Logs will exhaust their 180 minutes of flammable biomass. By then, we can do a little bit to help support, save really, Track & Field. I’ll throw other ways to help at you, don’t worry. There are websites and companies, athletes and stores, magazines and photographers that you, I, we can help. In doing so we will be saving and strengthening our sport. For now, though, we can focus on this one specific area. It may not be much but it’s something and on a day like today it sure beats shoveling.

Mr. Rupp! Tear Down These Walls!

Finally! We have something, really truly something to be jacked up about in our fledgling sport of Track & Field!

According to Oregon Project Head Honcho/Coach Alberto Salazar and his star pupil Galen Rupp there are going to be some fireworks this Indoor Season. Yes, some real deal epic throw-down record attempt fireworks!

I am giddy, a little lightheaded now that I think about it. I may be in the early stages of shock, I’m not a doctor. I can’t really be sure. I am definitely euphoric though as I type this post. This is not like Track & Field. It seems as if the sport goes out of its way to be boring and impossible to engage with. Yet, this seems really exciting! Feeling woozy.

Check out these two awesome trailers about the Oregon Project record attempts. The first one can be found here. Great stuff right? Want some more? Check out trailer #2 here. Yes, baby yes!

There is actually some legitimate excitement being created in track & field! I know, crazy right?

It seems like each of the last few years Rupp has said he was going to go after a record. One year it was the 5k at Arkansas, another year it was the 2 mile at Boston, last year it was the 1 mile (3:50.92!!!). Each time there were momentary glimpses of what track could and should be: large crowds, high-pitched-crazy-person screaming, fanboys and fangirls swarming the rails, and kick ass racing.

The 2013 mile record attempt by Rupp was the single coolest indoor race I have seen since Eammon Coghlan got 18,000 fans to rise to their feet and cheer him to the first ever sub 3:50 Indoor Mile at the Vitalis Meet in NJ. That was not a typo by the way, 18,000. Here, watch the race by Rupp in Boston last year. Listen to that crowd, see the relentless drive by Rupp, and did you notice your heart rate jump? Now, here you can watch Eamonn Coghlan break the 3:50 barrier at the 1983 Vitalis Meet. These races are Track & Field at its best.

This year is going to be extra special thanks to Coach Salazar getting his entire stable of runners all hot and bothered for the Indoor campaign. Jordan Hasay, Mary Cain, Treniere Moser, and Cam Levins are also going after big time records this season. 2014 will have THREE record attempts in 24 days by Rupp alone.

Did you get that weird feeling there? Did you? Did you have a momentary flashback to Seb Coe and his infamous 40 Days? Huh? If you don’t know what I am talking about, well, that is part of what is wrong with Track & Field. We don’t celebrate our history because we don’t KNOW our history! Anyway, back to Rupp but be assured that the Seb Coe lesson is coming, and coming soon, to RUNonsense.

The first record attempts take place TODAY – Thursday,January 16, 2014 and Flotrack will have LIVE coverage. Mary Cain and Treniere Moser will go for Jen Toomey’s 2004 1000m American Record of 2:34 at 7:25 PM ET. At 7:40 PM ET Rupp will be going after the American Record in the 5k. The time to beat? 13:07! There is so much that is right about this. What I am really happy about is that the powers that be decided to have the record attempts back to back on the schedule.

Again, I am dizzy. Does this mean that someone associated with Track & Field thought about, actually thought about what would make for the most exciting experience for the FANS! What is next?  Onscreen info with AR and WR splits shown (like in swimming) so we can see if Rupp or Cain are on pace? I need to calm down and not be so greedy.

So, what do we do? I’ll tell you what we do! Watch the races! Sign up for the coverage on Flotrack, read the articles on the race, share any and all coverage on your Twitter, Facebook, Digg accounts. Blog about the races and the athletes and the coverage. Talk about it. Shout about it. Run some extra miles in anticipation of it. Run some extra miles after it. No matter what be EXCITED about it.

We, as participants of this great sport, we as fans of this great sport, we as salesman of this great sport have only reaped what we have sown this last few decades. The sport has been boring because we are boring. Well, not any longer. Rupp and Cain are getting ready to rock. The big cheese himself, Alberto Salazar, says so. Let’s get excited. Let’s get rowdy. Let’s spread the word that there is finally a party in Track & Field. Put on your dancing shoes spikes because tomorrow in Beantown we have a party to go to. Finally!