The secret to running well is simpler than you think.
[note to reader: this is an excerpt from a column in the current issue of Runner's World. If it pleases you, replace the words run, runner and running with the word scrap, scrapper or scrapbooking -- and then see if you don't join me in some enlightening parallels]
… more and more I find myself becoming a running pragmatist. As I hear about the latest gadgets and apparel, I wonder, what difference will it truly make? In my early years as a runner, I was so excited about my newfound passion that I got caught up in the trappings, and lost sight of the bigger picture. I only cared about what difference I thought something would make. Take my first real pair of running shoes: The Saucony Jazz. I like jazz music, played jazz music, and knew jazz musicians. So, surely, these were the right shoes for me. And I’m sure they were fine shoes. It’s just that I never paused to ask whether they would help me achieve the transformation I was after.
And running apparel? Give me a break. I didn’t ask what difference it would make. I only cared how it looked. I tried tight shorts and loose shorts; singlets with snaps to hold your race number and others with capped sleeves; thick socks, think socks, no socks. If anyone made it, I bought it.
When it came to nutrition, my approach was no different. I tried every
energy bar on the market. There had to be one that would fulfill the
promise–or, in my case, fantasy — of making me faster. I ate high
protein and high carb. I ate two hours before I ran. I ate 20 minutes
before I ran. I drank whatever concoction I thoguht would improve my
race tines. Vitamins? Tried them all. Supplements? I can’t even tell
you all the prescription, nonprescription, herbal and semilegal stuff I
ingested or rubbed on my body. I guess I was fortunate that old men
finishing marathons in more than five hours are never test for durgs.
But all that time, I never questioned whether the shoes, socks, or
energy bars would make the difference between an eleven-minute pace and
a seven-minute pace.
Then I remembered the doctor who taught me that important question, and now i challenge the claims and promises held in front of me. Sure, shoes, gear and sound diet are valuable. But the only thing that has ever made any difference in my running is my running.
If I run with a goal, with or without the latest shoes on my feel and materials on my body, I improve. If I train with enthusiasm, with or without the supplements, bars, and gels, I improve. And if I race with passion, I am rewarded with a satisfying performances, even if I look like a pudgy old man with graying hair and an awkward stride.
So the next time you’re tempted to put something on or into your body rather than working to get something out of it, ask yourself, what difference will it make? My guess is you will find, as I did, that you already have what you really need to be your best.
Waddle on, friends.
[check out johnbingham.com to read more running wit and wisdom]
I also have to give a shout out to my brother Cougar.
Cougar, an awesome teacher, has taught at an alternative high school for years (he has just completed his PhD and is now a professor at BYU — my little brother, a professor!) in any case, last fall Cougar challenged one of his PE classes to run a marathon. These students were not runners — most of them had never run before. Most of them could not run two miles. Well, fast forward to last Saturday … and check out this link to the Salt Lake Tribune (you have to read down a little bit until you see Cougar’s name) and see how it all turned out — it’s worth your time!
Way to go bro — I am so proud of you and your students.