Tag Archives: track and field

You Only Remember What You Already Know

I went to a high school Track & Field meet last weekend. I needed to. Because I was tired. And I was worn out.  So, I went to the meet.

It was a beautiful evening. But it could have been terrible weather. It wouldn’t have mattered. I would have been able to get what I needed… a reminder.

If you find yourself beat up, torn apart, knocked down by life or work or your running just go to a Track & Field meet. If you lack inspiration or can’t find motivation go to a Track & Field meet. 

What you’ll find… is what you expect. You won’t be surprised. You won’t be shocked. You’ll see acts of sportsmanship all over the track and the field. And you will hear cheering from the stands, the track, the infield, the paddock. You’ll watch competition everywhere – real and pure and honest competition.

And you’ll see fear get its ass beaten every time the gun goes off.

That’s at every Track & Field Meet. 

Every. Single. One.

And as you walk away after that final finisher ends their final lap of their final race you’ll still be tired. You will still be worn out. But you’ll know you can get back on the line. Deep down you already knew that though.

You just needed to be reminded. 


Better than Fastest

I know I will never run a faster 1500m. I know I will never set a new PB in the Mile.But that doesn’t mean I can’t run a better one.

I know I can run a smarter first lap. I know I can run a more relaxed second lap. I know I can be more focused on the third lap. I know I can handle without complaint the battery acid pouring into my legs as I run down the backstretch on the final lap. I know I can look up and ahead on that final straightaway when all I want to do is look down. I know I can charge all the way through that damn line…and lean. Always lean. 

I won’t be the fastest I’ve ever been.

But there is the chance I can be my best – better than my fastest.

And that’s what keeps bringing me back to the starting line. 

Measure success as many ways as you can. 


Believing is Seeing

I’m sure some people will tell me that I’m too old to believe in magic. They will tell me that anything “extra” I felt when I first stepped onto the track at an empty Hayward Field was just the strong coffee I had just finished. Or maybe it was just the result of years of wanting and imagining and dreaming that this moment would be special. I’m sure that some people will tell me that I’m just seeing what I want to see and feeling what I want to feel.

There is no magic they’ll tell me.

But they didn’t run that first turn at Hayward and hear the echo of a starting gun that was not there drift behind me as I rolled forward. They will tell me it was just construction or a backfiring car or some University of Oregon student dropping a textbook.

They didn’t hear the sound of people clapping and stomping like I did as my heart beat increased and I picked up the pace along the epic backstretch.
They will tell me that’s just the sound of old wooden stands stretching and contracting as the sun and the wind do their dirty work on the structure.

They didn’t see and hear and feel the crowd rise to their feet as I came sprinting off Bowerman’s Turn like I did. They didn’t find that one extra gear like I did because Pre’s People demanded it.
They will tell me I imagined it all – I was awake and dreaming – I saw what I wanted to see.

Well, I was at Hayward Field and I ran a magical lap there.
Am I too old to believe in magic?

Believing in magic is what keeps me from ever being old.

Between The Lines

(I originally posted this on Instagram before the 2014 NYC Marathon. I thought it might be a good idea to repost it now. Good luck to every runner racing this Spring. Enjoy the journey between the lines.)
 It’s not going to be perfect. And it’s best to come to terms with that now.
You are going to go out too slow or too fast or fall asleep in the middle or come up short or have too much at the end. You may cramp because you drank too little and you may cramp because you drank too much. You may be sick and feel like crap. You may be healthy and feel like crap.
It’s not going to be perfect.
You have weaknesses. You screw up and make mistakes. You have doubts. You get scared.
Because you’re not perfect either.
But you’re not doing this because you thought you were perfect. You are doing this because you know you are getting Stronger. Because you are learning every day about yourself. And you Believe you can do this. And because being Scared is OK. Being scared reminds you that you are Alive. And sometimes you need to be reminded.
And you should celebrate that you are not perfect. That means you Always have something you can work on, Challenge yourself on. You know what you can be is Better.
You know what you can be is your Best.
You just can’t be perfect.
So this mile, this run, this marathon, this journey between these start and  finish lines can be Life Changing. It can be Inspiring. It can be a Triumph.
It can be so many amazing things.
It just can’t be perfect.
It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be Extraordinary.
And neither do you.

Things I Remember So I Don’t Forget…How To Coach

I’ve been coaching for a little while. Which means it’s really important not to forget the things I learned – which are different than the things I thought I knew. I forgot most of those.
Coaches need athletes.
Take the spotlight on the bad days.
Go behind and direct the spotlight on the good days.
Don’t lie to your athlete.
Know what you don’t know and admit it.
Don’t make your athletes run to the finish line for you.
They will run faster to the finish line for themselves.
They will run to the finish line fastest for their teammates.
Teach them it’s OK to lose. It’s not OK to give up.
Your athletes will lose. Don’t give up on them.
Don’t worry about what the athlete wants to hear.
Make sure they hear what they need to hear.
If you do this right you will get your heart broken.
If you do this right your athletes will get their hearts broken.
If you do this right those hearts will heal.
The heart heals stronger after it’s been broken.
This sport needs a strong heart above all else.
It’s OK to be nervous.
Don’t be afraid.
Faith is stronger than fear.
Believe in your athletes.
Your athletes will draw strength from your confidence.
Sometimes athletes bury their greatness deep inside.
Dig, dig, dig and keep digging until you find greatness in each and every athlete. It’s there.
It’s OK for your athlete to run and be hurting.
It’s not OK for your athlete to run and be hurt.
Be your athletes’ biggest fan.
Respect and be open to the possibility that today may be the greatest day the athlete ever has.
Celebrate those days.
Make sure every athlete that comes to your practice leaves better in some way.
Thank your athletes for making you better in so many ways.
Remember that everyone is meant to be a runner.
That makes everyone an athlete.
Athlete’s need coaches.

It’s Not Easy But It Is Wonderful

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – Clarence –  Guardian Angel, Second Class

It’s just not Christmas until I’ve seen ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. And it’s not until George Bailey’s guardian angel, Clarence, utters those words to a confused and distraught George that George gets it and he is finally ready to live again. Every year I watch it. And every year I finish it a little bit better of a person. Because I walk away having learned something different each time. A year of life passes between my viewings. I’m not the same person I was when I saw it last. So, in a way, I am always seeing it for the first time. And this year I teared up as always when Sam Wainwright’s telegram gets read and, well…I’ll just let you know what I thought about as I listened to the bells ring. (Attaboy Clarence!)

It’s not easy being there for someone else – when they need you – instead of just being there when you can. It’s not easy to stay behind when you want to lead. It’s not easy to lead the way when you’re just as scared as everyone else. It’s not easy to carry the load when you want to be carried. Life just isn’t easy. And maybe that’s what it’s about – those tough times where we get to lead and protect, the hard times when we get to stay behind and give the spotlight to someone else, the exhausting times when we get to take the burden off someone else’s shoulders, those moments when we get to carry each other.

Not HAVE to. We GET to.

It’s George Bailey who gets saved at the end. A man who saved people his entire life. It’s George there at the end who is the one needing to be carried and led and shown the light. It’s George who is surrounded by people willing to sacrifice for him as he had for so long for them.

We all have a few George Bailey’s in our life. Today seems like a good day to thank them and be thankful for them.

And WE are all George Bailey to someone else. Today seems like a good day to remember that and be thankful for that too. It’s a gift to be able to touch other people’s lives.

Be here. Fill up your hole. And you will fill up the holes in so many other people’s lives while your at it.

That’s a wonderful life.

Merry Christmas

What I Learned This Week

I try to learn something everyday. Sometimes I am learning something entirely new and other times I am merely re-learning something I already knew and had forgotten or I had warped and twisted in my head until I had convinced myself I learned something entirely different. It got me thinking…hmmm….what have I learned this week (May 23-May 29) that had to do with running in one way or another?

I already knew that Relays are awesome. Now I know that many other people feel the same way. The IAAF World Relay Championships were last weekend and they were amazing. Large and wild crowds greeted the teams that would compete over a number of different and sometimes rarely run relay events. That rarely run part is significant because it pretty much guaranteed some World Records were going to be shattered and shattered they were. The meet took place in the Bahamas and they did a great job. The crowds were electric for all the events – not just the shorter ones that the sprint crazed island nation love so much. If you have not already watched the races you should. Check the races out by clicking this link and watching races, highlight and coverage through FloTrack. My personal favorites are the US women and their 4×800 throw down and the Kenyan men ripping apart the hopes and dreams of the rest of the world in the 4×1500.

I already knew that the USATF has absolutely no idea how to manage the elite side of the sport. I also already knew that they fail the PR game on an almost daily basis. What I did not know was that the USATF was capable of making incredibly moronic decisions even though they knew that an ever brighter spotlight had been placed on them since USATF Indoors. I learned they were capable of picking a cheat-a liar-a drug cheating liar as a Coach for the US team and after being called out on it they were unable to formulate an exit strategy from this awful mess they had placed themselves in. Nor did they have the guts to admit they screwed up. It was a terrific insult to the other coaches and the athletes that went on this trip to represent the USA as well as an insult to every coach and athlete that has dedicated their time in this sport to achieve whatever greatness they can without cheating. Lauren Fleshman wrote a verbally eviscerating blog about it here. Fleshman nailed it. I have yet to see what USATF Head Honcho Max Siegel brings to the table. I must be missing something. Maybe I will learn next week why he is in charge. I’m hoping that all of this ends up being lessons learned for the USATF and someday (soon) we can look at them as the excellent organization that it needs to be.

I learned that breaking 5 while drinking is way more viewer friendly to non-runners than breaking 4 without drinking beer. James “the Beast” Nielson continues to get press and from larger and larger media sources for his epic WR Beer Mile. James was a fellow Nike Farm Teamer while I was out in Palo Alto, CA so I am biased when I say he deserves all the attention he gets. The latest article comes from the Wall Street Journal and it is interesting to say the least. I was totally unaware how big a deal the Beer Mile was/is. There is even talk of a Beer Mile World Championship taking place. I bet Canada won’t send a full team to that World Championship either.

I learned that I am in horrendous shape. It’s insane that I can literally be around running as much as I am and not be in better shape. Didn’t they tell us that you gain fitness through osmosis or diffusion or something? I curse biology when it does not operate in a way that benefits me! I should get some fitness brownie points for being such a running geek. So, I’ve realized I need a goal. A concrete goal – a race! I am in the process of investigating some options. I have no idea what distance I want to tackle though. 5k? Might be fun to do some speed work. Half-marathon? Manageable and I’ve never raced the distance. I’m sure it would be a nice feeling to put together 13.1 miles. Marathon? Part of me wants to do a marathon just so I can emotionally collapse on some poor freaked out volunteer who only wanted to put a space blanket on me after I crossed the finish line. I’ll keep you updated. I’m sure you care.

I learned that allergies suck and that Benadryl is really strong. I don’t really have allergies but Tuesday night while we ran our Tuesday Night Track Workouts the wind picked up big time. I saw the tress start waving and shaking. What I thought was an approaching torrential shower – an oddly yellow tinged approaching torrential shower – was in fact just pollen. Just massive disgusting amounts of pollen being blown off the trees. I thought this is not good. I woke up the next morning with eyes that looked like they had left my body while I slept and gone and starred in a Cheech & Chong movie. I was sneezing and blowing my nose all day. I finally took a Benadryl. It helped. It also basically knocked me out. I could hardly stay awake for the next 10 hours. Lesson learned? As a runner, if you have allergies and you have to run later make sure you are taking something that will not wreck you. (Also, if you are any good at running and compete make sure you know what is in EVERYTHING you take. Unless you are an American or Jamaican sprinter the odds are slim that the governing bodies of our sport will believe that you were merely ignorant and not actively trying to cheat.)

I learned that the Prefontaine Classic is Must-See-TV. The fields on Friday AND Saturday are insane. And it seems like Nike has upped the ante by really promoting the hell out of the Pre Classic online and through social media. Is it me or is running getting….edgy and cool? We’re close. Don’t get me wrong – I know that our sport will do almost everything wrong to destroy the momentum but you can’t help but be excited about the next few months of running. Just make sure you watch and Tweet and Email and Like and Share anything and everything you see about the Pre Classic. One of the great parts about our sport is how involved the fans can be so let’s make that great part be about how involved the fans are.

This was a nice exercise. Sadly it does not count as actual exercise. Damn biology. You may want to consider sitting down each week and jotting down what you learned. I learned this week that doing just that is a good idea.