Saturday, September 13, 2014

Being "Daniel-san"

If you are like me and had your formative years span the late 1980’s and early 90’s, then the phrase “sweep the leg” is likely to arouse your happiest childhood memories. Unlike my older brother whose definition of heroism was enshrined in the image of Luke Skywalker, or my younger sister who had to search through a litany of doe-eyed Disney damsels with anthropomorphic animal companions for inspiration, I had a clear role model to emulate in the pint-sized champion of Daniel Larusso…The Karate Kid!

The 1984 classic The Karate Kid is largely responsible for the thousands of hours adolescent boys spent in YMCA karate classes and practicing the “crane-kick” in their backyards. However, the impact of The Karate Kid is not limited to nostalgic reminiscence. Lessons from the classic form the backbone of any successful running program. If you have never seen the film (shame on you), and I highly recommend viewing it immediately before continuing this column.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons on the Water

Recently, while gathered with some friends, the “what would we do if money was no object” hypothetical was proposed while I worked feverishly to keep the small fire in our chiminea from erupting into a five alarm blaze. I casually responded, “I don’t know, probably what I am doing already.” The guffaw from my wife was almost instantaneous, “You’d be running or fly fishing, and I would see you for about half an hour a day.”
Knee-deep in Irondequoit Creek

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When the Wheels Fall Off

Runners have strange pre-race nightmares. We wake fitfully to quadruple check that we packed our shoes. We toss and turn over thoughts of body-chafing in unmentionable areas. We avoid fiber for weeks to quell the fever-inducing thought of race-day incontinence. We spend our taper weeks of relaxation wound tighter than the Gordian Knot imagining the million ways our race goals could become unraveled. It is the stuff of great psychological thrillers.

So what if? What if all those nightmares came to fruition on race day? What do you do? How do you respond to your running world collapsing around you? These are questions every runner must answer at some point, because I guarantee you will have a race where “the wheels fall off.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't Think. Just Run

A classic track t-shirt
For the past twenty years, I have marked spring’s arrival with one event. It is not the calendar date of the spring equinox. It is not the first day the thermometer reads above 40 degrees. It is not even the day that the last pile of dirty, brown, snow-ice-slush finally melts from the corner of my driveway. Since I was in seventh-grade in 1994, I have marked every spring’s arrival with the first track practice of the year.

Track season, like its spring placement, is a season of rebirth and growth. It is a season where we shake off the long miles of winter’s doldrums and adjust our eyes to again soak in natural light. Track is a season of camaraderie, challenge, and t-shirts!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Purpose of Purpose

Battling the elements at the front of a group
in the 2012 Lake Effect Half Marathon

Lately I have been thinking a great deal about purpose. Perhaps this is a byproduct of winter marathon training and battling what seems to be a never-ending deluge of polar vortexes. When your eyelids are frozen open by wind and sleet, and you’ve lost all sensation in your appendages, the “what am I doing” question plays like a song on repeat with every consecutive mile. To train for a marathon at any time, you have to be, what polite friends call, quirky. To train for a marathon through an upstate New York winter, you have to be downright crazy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In Pursuit

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) Poster

A few evenings ago, despite my best intentions to head to bed early and get some much needed recovery from my current training, I instead became wrapped up in one of my favorite movies, The Pursuit of Happyness. In the tear-jerker of a film, Will Smith plays real life "obstacle-hurdler", Chris Gardner who overcomes an avalanche of adversity to become a successful stockbroker. Yes, the movie even manages to make stockbrokers sympathetic characters, and it is guaranteed to make your stomach turn at the thought of the excuses you've made over the past week.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Running with Jason

In his classic book, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, Alan Sillitoe wrote, “the long-distance run of an early morning makes me think that every run like this is a life- a little life, I know- but a life as full of misery and happiness and things happening as you can ever get really around yourself.” When I first read Sillitoe’s book, the solitary, individual journey his protagonist, Smith, takes as a young man – using running as a vehicle of rebellion – spoke to my typically angst-filled youth. Through the fictional Smith, and later living running heroes like Steve Prefontaine and Roger Bannister, I learned to believe that the purist form of distance running occurred alone and simply. A man and the miles became my definition of running, which lasted long into adulthood.