on Training: Wanna Improve Your Running? Try Beating Your Buddies
Date: 30 Jul 00
lot has been said about how running is an individual sport. While
this is true, I think it can lead one to believe that the entire
focus for runners is on themselves. This is where we often see
certain running publications weigh in, gushing that get in touch
with yourself stuff. Don't get me wrong, all of that running to
experience nature, inner peace, or whatever the latest refrigerator
magnet or Penquin spew is are all cool things for those who are
motivated to jog.
However, in my opinion, these are not the motivations for real
running. Worse yet, if done in excess, these are all danger signs
of junk miles which keep the Rage and Bruce quite busy performing
junk mile interventions (refer to "Intervention"
article about Coop...it was almost too late...). The "inner
peace" thing is an easy excuse to trade a hard day for an easy
day and avoid The Truth. If used repeatedly, you won't get your
running to the next level, altogether.
My advice for anyone who has ever wondered about how fast you
might be or how much you might improve: Don't dodge realizing
your true potential…and I am talking whatever level you run at.
I think there is nothing better for improved running performance
than a little competition with your running buddies. In golf,
right around Ryder Cup time (which in that particular sport, it
does not get any more competitive than this event between Europe
and the US), you'll often hear US team captains encouraging players
to play for money against their team mates in practice rounds.
If you ever get the chance to watch a practice round in a pro
golf tournament, watch closely for the little pouches coming out
of the players bags as they walk off 18. No. Not the plastic bag
they put their golf glove into. While you and I might think it's
chump change to these guys, look again. Chances are, not everyone
walking off of that green will be smiling, and we're talkin' some
pretty good friends here as well as fellow professional competitors.
I don't care how successful you are. Losing a couple of C-notes
to one of your buddies, largely because you shoved that six iron
on 17 really helps your focus. Especially for what otherwise might
have been a round that might have included a couple of back-handed
downhill two footers you wish you would have played for keeps
now that 'ol Seve is jingling the change in his pockets behind
you as you stand over that same slippery downhill putt.
O.K. I am not saying bet your friends a C-note who can make it
to the top first. What I am saying is I can't think of any better
way to improve than running with someone you are fairly evenly
matched with and turning one of those inner peace seeking conversational
jogs into some side-grabbing, farmers-blowing, anaerobic-air sucking
jousting, baby. If you are not evenly matched in some distances,
pick an equalizer, like the steepest hill you can find, like
Kong…our often referred to 2,000 foot climb up the Coburg Hills
northeast of Coburg, Oregon.
A good hill definitely levels the playing field for a lot of runners,
which means more of us not only will run closer together, but
we will get a quality workout that would not be the same otherwise.
Why? Just run Kong once, and you will know. If I was on my own,
it would be a lot easier to back off a bit if things got a bit
uncomfortable. Having Bruce right on my shoulder and trying to
reel in T-Bone is about as good as it gets. With me not being
a strong hill runner, ripping my guts out trying to beat these
guys on a course especially challenging for me is going to bring
the best out of me (and them) when I really need it in an upcoming
it mean a silent trip back down the hill or a quiet ride home
in the car? Does it mean someone ends up humiliated? If it does,
this is not for you. You are not a true competitor. Skip this
message and go back to your refrigerator magnets. You can't handle
However, if you are motivated by refusing to look any longer at
your running buddies backside for the entire trip up, then lace
'em up tight and let's get it on. I guarantee you one thing: Your
racing experiences will be much more enjoyable and you will run
faster. And that's the Truth.
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