I vaguely remember my high school football coach, you know the coach this is a highly experienced distance runner, yelling at me to pick up my knees when we had to run a timed mile in the 11th grade. Other than that apparently I was doing everything else right and didn’t need any additional coaching before or since. After all, it’s just running right? We grew up doing it and did it all our lives. Sure, it wasn’t until later in life that I began pounding the pavement, literally pounding, for miles upon miles. I was exercising, trying to lose that “freshman 15”. It wasn’t long until I realized that I kind of enjoyed running and started doing it more and more. I also started to realize I was naturally inclined as a runner, or so I thought, because my times started getting really good compared to the people around me (most of them being out of shape fraternity brothers). Like many of you, I would train for races by logging miles. Run, run, run. By the end of most of my runs, I was sweating and exhausted. It’s wasn’t long before I would slowly kind of dread those runs because I knew I would be exhausted. I also found that I was plateauing for years, but I just kept on running. I do credit running with getting in much better shape after my freshman year of college and credit it with providing me an outlet for finding calm. However, I never treated it like a sport.
I thought I was. After all, I “practiced” 5 days a week, 3-5 grueling miles at a time. Running is an athletic endeavor, and it should be treated as such. Jerry Rice, the famous NFL receiver, has long been known as one of the hardest working athletes in the sport. Physically he worked his tail off, but you don’t become an amazing receiver by running faster and jumping higher. You work on the fundamentals. Running a crisp route, taking the correct angles, and most importantly by catching the ball! Jerry Rice has spent hours upon hours running simple routes, to perfection, and catching footballs. Neither of those destroyed his body and exhausted him but he worked and worked and worked on the fundamentals. Why don’t we us runners do the same? Running is a sport, but for some reason we feel like we don’t need to work on the fundamentals. Often we view it as “wasted” time. Time we could be spending on the trails or just logging miles. One of the things I’ve come to love about running with the MAF method is that it forced me to slow down. When I did that, I noticed that my form sucked, so I read up on The Pose Method. When I did that, I noticed that I started running with better cadence, landing on my mid/forefoot vs my heels. When I did that for a few months then went out to race a crazy thing happened, my times got much better! And I didn’t feel as exhausted when I trained. So slow down in your training. Figure out areas in which you need help and do some homework or find a coach. Take care of your body and improve your running.
Be a better human!