Thursday, August 6, 2015

Everybody Wants to go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die

Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.-- Toba Beta

Tonight I ran a solid race. I didn't PR but I'm okay with the effort I put in. Actually, I probably could have pushed a bit more. I am however very pleased with knowing what sort of effort I put forth. I had complete control over my body. I swear I could hear myself breathing in oxygen. I was very in tune with my arm swing and foot strike. I am not saying that I thought about these things. I am saying that I knew what my body did for the entire race.

This is a microcosm of the type of race I run and certainly only a sample size of how I want to understand myself but it is a start. The reason that I was so comfortable today with giving more than my usual effort is because of the miles that I've logged. My running is more like deliberate practice. A while back I read an article called, "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Aquisition of Expert Performance". The basic idea of the paper is that it takes years of constant deliberate work in order to truly become an expert or to actually master a craft. I no longer do long runs because every marathoner should. I do them in order to build my aerobic conditioning.

I have a former colleague, Jerry Faulkner, who is a 2:24 marathoner. He has won some and he dreams of going to the Olympic trials. I mentioned Jerry because although I think that Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, and Shalane Flanagan, my three favorite runners now, work really hard I don't actually know what they are doing. I know that Jerry puts in 100 mile weeks. I know that he is constantly pushing and tweaking. There is no guarantee of anything but he will guarantee that tomorrow, he will be out there working on his craft.

The other guarantee is that I will never be an elite runner. I am every runner, just a dude on the roads. I am a ghost at races and invisible on run routes. I do work on my work. In ten years I will be 50 and my effort may make me a solid masters division guy but I will be better then than I am now. 

As every day people we love to yell about what super star performers get paid for playing with a ball or singing a song. Trust me, if you were that talented and you put in that amount of effort, you would deserve everything that comes along with it. They say that it will take 10,000 hours in the batting cage for someone to make it to the majors. Let's be honest, who is willing to do that? Elite distance running takes 10 years of 80-120 mile weeks... Every week. Chess players, tennis players, and even day traders, have to put a considerable amount of time in order to reach the pinnacle.

Just recently someone asked my wife, what does your husband do, and someone in the background said, "he does running". If this is what I am and this is what I do, I had better be damned good at it. 

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