Monday, May 9, 2011
I had a nice 45 minute trail run today but it's about what happened to me yesterday. While I was reviewing the 5k course I will race on next week and doing a nice 30 minute tempo run, for whatever reason the great Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine jumped into my mind and specifically the quote where he says:
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
This kept ringing in my ear over and over, and it caused me to reflex back on my brief runner career (having started later in life) and what I want to do and accomplish with my running. Also, from somewhere deep down inside, my old basketball competitive juices started to stir. I forgot this feeling but I know it well. As a high school and collegiate basketball player, I was ultra competitive and I couldn't wait to get on the court and push as hard as I could. I haven't felt that way since I started running a little more than 3 yrs. ago as I got into running to improve my health and over that period of time I started to compete at a respective level in the masters' categories. I've finished in the top 10 in most of my 5k races, finished 2nd overall twice and won a 5k outright (I'm running in the low 18:00's). However, I still didn't bring the same competitive spirit or expectations I had in basketball over to running and it didn't matter to me as I was running for the sheer love of running.
This is why yesterday impacted me so much because for the first time I was asking myself, "how fast can you be?," "how fast can you run a 5k," "how fast could you run if you lay it all on the line," "what would happen if you ran all-out." In the past, I never broached these questions or topics because it wasn't that important to me and I was happy finishing in the top 5-10% as I've been doing in past races. But, yesterday, things changed and I have no idea why. I have no idea why Steve Prefontaine popped in my mind and I couldn't let the thought go and it forced me to do some deep analyzing of myself while I was running and that quote from him about "sacrificing the gift," hit me really hard. We only get one chance at this life thing and I had to ask myself, "am I settling when I can push harder?," and if so, "am I doing myself a disservice by not pushing harder."
As I continued to think about this during my run, I started to smile and when my run was over, I said to myself, "I'm ready to push into uncharted waters and find out what I'm made of." To do anything less, is to sacrifice the gift. Now, I truly understand what Steve Prefontaine meant. My mental approach is changing and I'm focusing on the 5k distance with laser focus and I'm making a long term commitment (I'm thinking in years, not weeks/months) to find out what I can do at the 5k distance. Given all the various distances I've run up to the marathon, the 5k is the perfect mix of my talents and it's my favorite distance, and I love training for that distance (I also like 10k's for training purposes to get me ready for 5k's.).
Then, today I read June's edition of "Running Times," and it has an article on masters' runners that are moving back from marathons to 5k/10k's and focusing to be highly competitive at that distance (I recommend you read it) . . . that was another signal in my mind. So, I'm changing my training approach with a lot of focus on my stride, pace and tempo running. On the stride side, I'm doing a lot of drills and in fact some days are specifically dedicated to drills (jumping, skipping, bounding, etc.), all focused on the key to running: the stride. As we get older, we tend to maintain a good turnover level but not our stride length and without both in optimal form, you can't perform your best, especially at the 5k distance (this is what separates Bekele from the rest of the world).
So, today going forward I've decided to make another push and make sure I do not sacrifice the gift but that I feed and nurture the gift and let it take me wherever that may be . . . the joy is in the ride, not the destination.
Posted by - at 10:01 AM