So, you want to be a runner and you want to know what it means to be one. Well, I was motivated to write this post after viewing the recently posted video showing Pat, Brian, Layton and others after running at 5:30 am. On the one hand you see Pat voicing the difficulties that he experienced during the run, Brian being totally non-committal and Layton forever smiling and giving wise, albeit somewhat misleading advice concerning oxygen consumption. This variance in attitudes of runners is to be expected and celebrated, as runners are people first and therefore are blessed with there own wonderful individualism. But what struck me most was a single remark made “off camera”. I believe it was Layton, although it could have been any of the others who said, “No man runs alone.” It is this principle that I have always tried to emulate and I am so glad to see some of this rubbing off on others.
You see, there is nothing more frustrating and demoralizing for a beginning runner, one who is returning from an injury or one who simply has not developed their level of competence to see someone run ahead, especially when they are suffering. And believe me, we all will have or have had those bad days when our “bio-rhythms” are simply out of whack for whatever explicable or inexplicable reason. The term “bio-rhythm” is most likely foreign to most of you, but it is a term that, in my opinion is a most descriptive word that defines all of the external and internal influences that individually or collectively affect how we feel and how we in turn perform. Your performance can be clearly impacted by things under your control such as the type of food eaten the night before; your level of hydration; the manner in which you mentally and physically prepare for the elements; the type of shoes you wear; how you slept the night before; how much stress you are under and so forth (you can probably fill in your own favourites). These factors are fairly understandable, but some other factors that are far more mysterious and often not within your control, might include the amount of pollution in the air; the air pressure (is it rising of falling); the magnetic pull of the moon and sun; the amount of daylight; the height of the sun in the sky; the smell of the soap that you are using and so many other factors that are too many to name. So do not deny those bad days, or even try to explain them away, as they WILL happen.
It is the mystery of what is behind both the good days and the bad days that amazes me, and I would invite you all to be similarly amazed. I like to compare the complexities of what may affect my running to the wonderful and amazing growth of a plant. Why is it that certain plants grow better than others, even when there is an apparent similarity in care? This is a wonderful and amazing MYSTERY that my feeble mind can only try to imagine. Yet I can witness this everyday. As an example, my wife has had a Shamrock plant for years, and about a year ago I forgot to keep it watered and it almost died. Well only after months of TLC from my wife it did come back. But what is amazing, this plant loves the television. In fact when you have the plant near to the TV and turn it on, it actually vibrates. Now this sounds crazy, but I have seen this happen and my eyes do not deceive me. Is there an explanation? Not that I can fathom, but I know it happens. Just like I know I have good days and bad days running and most times there is no explanation.
All of this said, when you look at what must have happened this morning, Pat was clearly having difficulty, for whatever reason, whereas Layton was full of vim and vinegar, yet Layton and I have to assume the others finished together. It has been my experience that I have been both the blessed recipient of help from superior (at least on that day) runners and have at the same time tried to assist others who may be struggling. If you want to be a good runner, then remember your fellow runner, because he or she may be your salvation as soon as tomorrow.
As for me, I will always try to be the last runner to finish and as I indicated, there will be at least sometime when each of you, including me (just ask Joel about two weeks ago) will experience a very difficult run. This is all part of the physical and mental portion of the training and if you do not experience a bad run at least once, then either you are most fortunate or someone else is hurting more than you. So, please do not be upset if on any given day you are the chosen person to be one step ahead of me, in fact celebrate, as this will mean that you have achieved an important part of your training. Remember, running is all MIND OVER MATTER (as Satchel Page said, “If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter.”) and because a running is 95% mental (and the other half is physical), you all must work as much or more so on mental toughness as on physical endurance.