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Friday, July 27, 2007

Crash and Burn: A Personal Critical Look

Crash and burn. That's been my general plan for training and racing during this effort.

What's it mean?
In and of itself, the phrase means failure. It is slang from the 1970s regarding a massive plane or car crash. Not as I use it. Not here. It is working until the point of failure, or success. No middle ground. Whichever comes first. And one will come first. No mediocre effort.

I think of it as doing my best - giving all I've got, and if I succeed, great. If I don't succeed, I will have left no excuses.

Why?
I'm not jogging here. I'm running. I have goals. I have times to hit, or hope to hit. While my times will not win any trophies, even in my age group, the issue is no different.

I'm not naturally fast. In fact, in grade school track, in the seventh grade, I was the slowest miler. I ran the mile because that is where the coach lumped all of us without a real event. We had one kid who would run a 5:10, but otherwise, nothing.

Any speed I do have is the product of hard work. I did not realize in high school that this was the case, but it is true. Long miles, lots of races. It was a good time, but hard work just the same. When I finished a race, I would be exhausted.

Now, I'm older. I cannot draw on the same leg speed, but I can draw from the same gut.

No leftovers.
I don't like leftovers for dinner, and I don't like them when I am running.

How does this play out in a race?
Simple: figure out what my reasonable goal time is, then do what it takes to start at the time. This is not a conservative effort. All available resources go into this. I have no "start slowly and pick it up" plan. I have a "start fast and see if I can hold on" method.

What about during a workout?
This is difficult because part of the point of a workout is to strategically hold back, to run at a certain pace and effort to gain some benefit. Running at 100% speed isn't the answer. It means to run a workout hard, on pace, never flinching.

When I am feeling like slowing down, there are three reasons: something is hurt (twisted, pulled), I have no more gas no matter how hard I push (as experienced running up this beast of a hill), or, I am weak mentally. Mental weakness is not unique to me, but I will not tolerate it. I feel often that I would rather sip lemonade, but there is no victory in that.

I'm not running a lemonade stand. I'm running to win the prize. That prize is s a 20:00 5K (19:59, to be exact).

It does not mean running until or through an injury. I'm not getting paid for this. My livelihood is not found on the track. Even then, that might be foolish, but the question is not mine. I have knees to worry about, calves which remind me I'm not 20, a back that has not enjoyed moving books and furniture every time I live somewhere else.

Crash and burn. Running when I am tired. Running when I am thinking about lemonade. Running when I am not winning a medal. Running when I'm the last guy, exhausted, at practice. Running when I'm alone, and no one is watching. Running with the wind, against the wind. Running if the best I have in me is a 20:01, or 23:13. And, no excuses.

1 comment:

David Dane said...

I'll keep a leisurely jog thank you very much. I'd crash and burn and not get up running like you have. Arg...