Did you run at Grandma's House?

Tuesday, December 30 2014

Did you run at Grandma's house?


Winter break is over halfway through, and I wanted to take a second to share some thoughts and ramblings about this puzzlingly great sport of distance running...  


First off, I really hope everyone is enjoying their winter break.  I know for me personally, having a young family and a new baby, this time has been very special.  I am enjoying every minute of break and do not take the chance to be at home with family for granted, not for a second…


I am doing a bit of running here and there on my own, just trying to stay in good enough shape to stick it to guys in workouts occasionally, but I know those days are passing.  I also want to run in the 4:30's again for the Friday under the lights races at State, and beat Coach Quin and Coach Damhoff in the 400m.  It would help me a lot if we could get a 4x800 team (along with 4 alternates) down there to help cheer us on!


I have thought a lot about the individual meetings that we had during the weeks after the XC season.  I left each one very impressed with the level of honesty and reflection each guy showed, as well as the challenging goals that guys set.  Last year, when we started doing the meetings, I felt like I had to push and push guys to set harder goals.  This year, it was evident that you guys have upped your level of thinking and really want to get this program to a new level.


In all honesty, the writing of the goals is the easy part.  Where we find ourselves now is the hard part of making the goals a reality.  As I have told several guys, goals to not just magically happen because we write them down.  They are a result of very specific, dedicated training, staying healthy, and getting out of your comfort zone.


To me, there are basically 2 types of runners: the ones who run when they go to grandma's house, and those who take a day or two off when the fam goes to Gmas's... Let me explain...


While it is far too early to tell if guys are on their way to reaching goals or not, it is becoming apparent who is truly on board with getting themselves to a new level.  Anonymity is a bad thing for a young runner, and unfortunately on winter break, with no coach and teammates making you do something, many runners tend to fall back into a "comfortable" level of training.  Running when it is convenient.  Taking off days when your family wants to go shopping... or go to grandma's house, as if grandma's house does not have roads to run on.  Guys tend to find convenient excuses.  This is not my opinion, it is just a fact.  


Every runner, at some point or another, finds out who they really are as a runner during times of solitude and "breaks".  These are usually the guys that find themselves running inconsistently, struggling to be where they want to be at the end of the year, and wondering what they can do in the culminating weeks of the season to "make the conference team", or "make the Sectionals team".  Let me save you the suspense now...  What you can do is dedicate yourself right now to letting nothing stop you from reaching your goal.  Do not ever make the "convenient excuse" to miss training.  Do not live in anonymity and go into hiding while your dedicated teammates are sticking to their plan, finding ways to get training runs in despite varying commitments and family schedules.  Do not let the weather dictate your training... be wise and smart, but do not let it be the reason you aren't training.  And for goodness sakes, do not disappear from the training log!  If you want a sure fire way to communicate to your teammates that you are not getting the job done and are not yet "all-in" with this mission of being the absolute best you can be, then blow off the training log (which your teammates and coaches check daily) for 3-weeks.  Great runners love this time of year, because it is when they can truly make a gap on those that are not getting it done.


I had a recent get-together with a good friend and fellow coach, Steve Buti (Highland Park HS Head XC coach), and we lamented similar frustrations with guys losing dedication over break and seeing very clearly the division of those "all in" and those pretenders.  We also wondered aloud why it is that training logs slip more during Xmas break (when there is ample time to get it done each day) than any other time of year???  


I believe the answer is simply that times of breaks (from school, teammates, practices, etc) reveal who you truly are as a competitor.  It does not reveal your character or whether or not you are a good guy...  I know a ton of runners who are tremendous guys, model citizens, National Honor Society members, will be amazing college students, etc. they simply are not ferocious competitors. When you really get down to it, they are not "all in" as competitors. They will never taste the sweet feeling of knowing you did absolutely everything you could to be the best runner you could be. They will never feel the satisfaction of walking away from the sport at the end of their HS career (or perhaps continue on to running in college) and having zero regret.


I will be the first to say that it is by no means an easy thing, this business of being a fast distance runner.  Talent gets us a little ways, but the year-round dedication it takes is daunting at times.  Even the best go through periods of lack of motivation, lapses in training, even questioning if this is all worth it.  Trust me, I get it and have been there.


I also know that there is no better feeling than running a PR.  A hard earned PR.  There is no feeling like improving each year.  Having a “shock the world” type race that is the result of dedicated, “behind closed door” training for months during the “off season”.  Our sport is like no other in that we get to see tangible results and rewards for our hard work-  Conversely, it can be the cruelest of sports as well, revealing the shame of months of faking your way through training, doing the minimum, and tricking yourself, your teammates, and your coaches into thinking you were all in, when in fact you were merely going through the motions and looking the part.  And only you know where you fall on that continuum.  The stopwatch in May won’t lie.  


So, for those members of the PN Distance Crew and others around the state who are out there grinding, putting in work, and writing your own success story, please keep it up, keep balance in your life, and stay healthy!  For those out there that are not getting it done… who don’t bring their running shoes when they go to grandma’s house, who think a few hours at the mall constitutes a good reason for a “0” in the training log, I ask you to think about what you want that stopwatch to say in May.  When your teammates are shattering PR’s and making coach’s decisions easy, what is your story going to be?


It is by no means too late.  Wherever you are at, please just be honest with yourself. Don't BS yourself and your teammates.  If it means enough to you and you've simply let it slip too much in the last few weeks, own it and then get it turned around. Call a teammate and get out there.  Don’t live in anonymity with your training.  Good, bad, or ugly, stay consistent with your training log.  I have yet to talk to a single coach of a decent high school program that does not think keeping a detailed training log is CRUCIALLY important.  I have never looked back in my own life as a runner and thought “You know, I really wish I hadn’t wasted my time keeping a training log all those years…”  Instead, I still kick myself that I cannot find my log from my junior year of HS!  



You'll seldom experience regret for anything that you've done. It is what you haven't done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you've lost them forever.


People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.

Keep on running,


Coach Derks