Here is my best advice to runners: run fast. Actually, my best advice is even simpler than that: run.
There is no one thing more important to your improvement as a runner than running itself.
I would consider this as the next most important thing. This, of course, follows the assumption that when you run, you run distance. Running is distance running.
Then, run fast. The first things I mentioned, though they are the most fundamental, are those hardly worth lending words. They are essential–you should already be used to these two.
Now, run fast.
My third and final season of high-school cross country has just ended. It took me three years to learn to run fast, and by this time it is too late for me.
By running fast, I do not mean to run with great speed. To run in pain, is what I mean, for that is essential to progressing towards speed.
“If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.”
Of course, this also carries the assumption that you care to improve as a runner. If you do not, feel free to stop reading now, because I write to those who want to run faster, to those who want to run faster longer.
“If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.”
This is something I constantly tell myself, that I constantly tell my teammates, something that I have heard my coaches and older teammates telling me in years past.
I had accepted this, but I had not learned it. I had been waiting for a chance to finally push out of my pace, to finally get fast. I had been hoping for a breakthrough, when my team and I left for our Cross Country travel meet.
We got out of class just after second hour, boarded a bus, and rode South to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to compete in the nationally recognized Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival.
The purpose of the travel meet we participate in each year, coach consistently reminds us, is to simulate the state meet. And as such, only the top 12 runners get to go on this excursion. This “business trip.”
And any additional seniors.
I grin broadly when I hear this–that’s me. I know I’m not fast, that’s fine. I’m working on it, that’s good. I’ve run for three years. Now I get to go.
I smell a breakthrough.
The bus pulls up to the course and lets us off to run before we go to the hotel. We get out, set up the tent for the next day, and jog. The course is as flat as the proverbial pancake, including, to stick with the simile, a single hill no larger than a pat of butter for us to run over.
That night, we talk over race strategy.
“It’s going to be crowded, so stick to the outside of the turns.”
“Be sure to use those straightaways to surge”
“You should be dead when you cross the finish line.”
As a senior, I am asked to give my input as well.
Alarms go off the next day, we stuff ourselves with the free breakfast, and we’re off to the course.
The gun goes off.
The first hundred meters, I can feel the other runners pulling away, leaving me to breathe in the red Arkansas dust of their superiority. I push faster, I run my race.
I finish in 19 minutes and 14 seconds.
My coach is surprised; I feel as though I have finally learned what running is.
On the bus ride back, all I can think about is the next week’s meet. A few days later, I get a course map in my e-mail. There are three medium sized hills, all in the first half of the course, and the rest is mostly flat. I think “I can do this” and “I’m going to break twenty again.”
The starting line. I know this is going to be a tough course.
Coach tells me to have fun – “This is your last race,” he says. I think that if I have fun, he is definitely right.
As we take our places on the starting line, I notice the race is sparse—some teams only have four men running. I tell myself I have a shot at competing–if I don’t have fun. The gun goes off, and I run. I notice that I am starting among the main crowd of runners. I have never done this before, so I allow myself to slow down and fall to where I believe I should be in the pack.
My first mistake.
I tell myself that it will be my only.
I run my race.
Thinking on my race, I give myself an F in maneuvering.
I run hard, knowing this is my last chance to achieve something. My last chance to show my coach that I am no joker, that I honestly am a runner, dedicated to the program.
I finish the race in a heavy sprint, filled with euphoria. I have passed people, I have finished ahead of people I should not have finished ahead of. People I am sure should have made it onto the top 10 list for the team.
The awards ceremony.
The top seven spots contain our varsity runners. No question. They didn’t have to battle for a spot on the team.
The next three, and I am not among them. I am not close. I am happy for my teammates.
I am done.
We go to CiCi’s pizza after, but I cannot eat anything. I am in much pain. The pain lasts all day.
My season is over. My time, out.
I have run my race.
“Run fast,” I say.
“Run up the hill.”
“Fly down the hill.”
“When you cross the finish line, you should be dead; but don’t stay that way.”
That is what I have to say about running.
I do try not to do so many off-topic posts–or posts that are all talking about myself–but I was tagged by Aurora J. McLaine, and I do aim not to disappoint.
To start off, I would like to pose this question: Where did the title come from? I’m not winning any award, I’m answering questions. And the questions have nothing to do with the infinity of my dreams, for that matter.
And now for the first part of this …’award,’ I am to tell you eleven facts about myself.
Fact One: My favorite number is 42, although I have still not read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Fact Two: I have seven cats.
Fact Three: I am a Christian
Fact Four: I was homeschooled until last year.
Fact Five: I don’t like listing facts about myself.
Fact Six: I like running long distances
Fact Seven: My favorite band is Tenth Avenue North, and I have seen them in concert. It was pretty cool.
Fact Eight: My favorite song is ‘Worn’ by the aforementioned band.
Fact Nine: Christopher Eccleston is my favorite Doctor from Doctor Who.
Fact Ten: My favorite TV show is The Six Million Dollar Man–it’s a really cheesy 70’s show, but it’s a lot of fun.
Fact Eleven: My favorite color is either Yellow or Orange.
Bonus Fact: These facts are not in order of importance.
And now, Aurora has given me eleven questions to answer:
What would you do if you were stuck in a small pitch-black room, with no doors or windows, and you were only surrounded by walls?
I would probably think I was asleep, and would fall asleep before too long. As for what I would do when I awoke, I wasn’t planning on writing an entire novel here, but if the walls were drywall I would probably break through.
You are given a choice to choose between a sword and a bow and arrows. Which would you choose?
That’s a hard one. For a start, I can’t use either of them at all. Also, what is this for? Winning a fight? Survival? Just fun? I would probably choose the bow and arrows just because they’re more stealthy and wouldn’t require as much sharpening.
What was your scariest dream/nightmare?
I haven’t had a lot of dreams lately, but the ones I have had have had a strange recurring element that slightly bothers me. My left leg is shorter than my right leg. And this has been bothering me for a while. I just recently realized it was a dream–that is, until one night when I was about to fall asleep and I realized that no, it wasn’t a dream. My left leg really was shorter. Then I woke up.
What is your dream job?
I want to be a director. Of movies. I only specify because others have gotten confused, although I can’t think what else I’d want to be a director of.
What are your thoughts… on apple pie?
Pie is hard to make. It has to cool forever in order to not fall apart. But warm pie is the best. So what do you do about that? Also crust is hard to make. Sorry, no thoughts specific to apple pie, but there are my thoughts on pie in general.
What is your favourite subject?
My favorite school subject, I assume? That is a tough one. Sculpture is fun, but deadlines are hard. German is just plain fun, and easy. Math is fun and easy, but not something I want to devote my life to. Band is fantastic. I play the Bass Clarinet, one of the three coolest instruments in the band (along with Tuba and Bassoon). Sculpture is probably my overall favorite, because I just get to show up and make art every single day.
If you had to choose between turning all water into blood or turning all food into stars, which would you choose?
Well, here’s the thing. Nobody likes to drink blood. Except for some people. But stars are pretty. I’d choose to turn all food into stars.
Are you on NaNoWriMo?
I’ll assume the question is about the YWP and not the adult website–but either way, the answer is yes, and I have posted about it before. I have been a member since 2012, and won every year, barring the one time I tried to do camp NaNo. If you want to know more about NaNoWriMo or are interested in participating, check out my post (complete with links) about it here.
What is your favourite book?
By far, Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card. It’s amazing. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to explain without giving it away, but it is positively phenomenal. Let me try to set the scene a little bit, though. It is set in the ’90’s. The protagonist (Step Fletcher) is a computer programmer who is a Mormon and has just moved to a small town in North Carolina for a new job. Step is married and has three kids, the eldest of which (Stevie) is in elementary school although he is mentally much older in some ways. The main plot centers around Stevie’s growing troupe of imaginary friends, something he’s never had until they moved, so his parents are worried, and it turns out… you’ll have to read the book.
If you could choose to change a part in your favourite book which part would you change, and what would you change it to instead?
No, not a thing. Lost Boys is perfect. And no, it has nothing to do with Peter Pan.
Which of these questions did you enjoy the most?
I prefer questions that make me think, questions that are hard to answer–I may not always come up with an answer, but I will provide something worth reading.
My favorite question was the one about my scariest dream, because that dream was one that has been intriguing me for a while. Why would I dream such a thing? My second favorite one was the one about my favorite book–because seriously, Lost Boys is fantastic.
Now, guidelines for the ‘eleven’ people I am to tag:
- Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture.
- Thank the blogger who tagged you.
- Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions.
- Tag 11 bloggers.
Here are the people I am tagging (I have linked to their blogs, so you can take a look if you feel like it.):
And here are the questions for my taggees:
- If you could only read one type of literature for the rest of your life, would it be short stories or novels?
- What is your favorite book, and why?
- What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions?
- What would you do if you were in a pitch black room with no doors or windows?
- What was your most interesting dream?
- What is your favorite thing about writing–whether it be a blog post, a work of fiction, or a biographical work–and why?
- What is you favorite type of noodle/noodly meal?
- If you never had to work again, what would you do with your time?
- If you could know the exact moment when you were to die, would you want to?
- If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
- What type of question most annoys you?
One Sunday morning, I awoke to discover that my back yard was coated in a thin blanket of white precipitation. Checking the temperature, it was below 20º. Pretty cold. So that afternoon I got the bright idea that I needed to go for a run.
I put on my sweats, my sweatshirt, my hat and set off intending to go three miles–a decent run. But the air was cold, and panic set in lot long after I set out. My fingers were completely numb. I couldn’t breathe, and my nose dripped incessantly. I could not continue running.
By the time I finished the first mile, I was done. I went inside and was for a moment afraid that I would lose my hands.
I still have every finger.
But, although I find my own life and experiences terribly exciting, it isn’t beneficial to spend the whole time talking about myself.
The point of this story is that it gets cold–in some places of the world, at least–and this is a very good excuse not to run. Stay inside, stay warm. Watch cartoons and wait for the Spring to come. But winter is too long of a break from running.
You can’t always wait for the warm days. Sometimes you have to brave the harsh winter. But when you do, go prepared.
When you go out to run on a cold day, stay warm. Dress in a way you would never dress to run otherwise: gloves, a hat. A ski mask even, maybe. But don’t go so far as to not run.
Because then, when the comfortable time to run returns, you won’t be ready, and it will feel like the first day all over again. For a painful time it will feel like you’d never run before. And believe me, that is not fun at all. Being so sore for the next 24 hours that you can’t get up off the couch. Run, stretch, keep running–dress warm, but never stop the cycle.
But it’s time for me to sign off, get out there, and get stuff done.
Never stop running.
The WordPress stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog. Here it is:
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 380 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
Some of you readers may have noticed the lack of posts recently. I’m extremely sorry about that. If you didn’t notice, I must not be writing an exciting enough blog. For that, I must also apologize.
The reason, or perhaps I should say, excuse, for my inactivity so far this month is something known as NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. This is a thirty day writing frenzy which I take part in every November, and is a lot of fun. E.L. Doctorow once said that writing is like driving at night, because you can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way, and I’ve been noticing more than ever this year how true that is. I came in with only a basic plot idea, and still I have no idea how I’m going to bring it around to a conclusion. The uncertainty is thrilling.
So the idea of this program is that you set yourself a goal of say, 30 thousand words–the basic goal for people on the Young Writers Program, which I’ll explain in a second–and you spend the entire month of November just pounding out those words to create a novel by the end of the month. Now don’t get me wrong, with all the other things most 16-year-olds have piled upon them, this is hard, but it’s amazing. And I’ll tell you one thing, nobody expects you to have a print-ready novel by the end of those thirty days, but what you will have had is the experience of a lifetime. And I get to do it every November. So during this month, it’s a lot of madness, a lot of typos, and a lot of surprising inspiration as you battle your way to whatever goal you set for yourself. It’s fantastic.
But if you’re over eighteen, it’s a little bit different. See, for the Young Writers Program, you can set whatever goal you like. Take it easy your first year, write a 5 thousand word short story. Or go all in and shoot for any humongous goal you like. I’ve seen people go for over 100 thousand words before. But if you’re more than eighteen years old and on the adult site you have to write 50,000 words, which, and I don’t mean to discourage you, but I can’t even do that yet–and this is my fourth year doing NaNoWriMo. I admire those who can reach such a daunting goal.
But one other thing I would like to emphasize is that this is a personal challenge. You’re not competing against anyone but yourself, so if you give it everything you’ve got, then even if you don’t reach the goal you set, you’re still a winner.
So whatever goal you set for yourself, you spend the month writing your way to that many words. Some of us succeed, some keep going, some even fall short, but for those of us who like this sort of thing, this is just the sort of thing we would like.
But that’s probably more information than you really want. In case it isn’t, I’ll post links to the websites below.
The story I’m writing this year is about a man who wakes up as a completely different person in a completely different place every single day. We’ll see how that turns out. I honestly have no idea.
The interesting thing, though, is that even when I’m clueless as to how it will end up, I can just put down word after word and let my characters show me what happens. It’s hard to explain, but I often feel as though I’m not writing a story of my own, but merely following my characters and recording theirs.
So that’s an introduction to NaNoWriMo, and what I’m actually doing while I’m not running.
You can expect return to a more regular running log now that November is over.
Read. Run. Write.
Here are the links:
The Young Writers’ Program: ywp.nanowrimo.org
The Adult Website: http://www.nanowrimo.org
If you’re interested in what a Word War is, check out Liam Wood’s blog: http://liamwood.org/2015/11/07/sprint-battle-party/
It’s so hard to build good routines.
The mark of one week since my last blog post came and went, and I realized that I had not run a single mile. So yesterday, three days late, I come home and finally decide to knock out some miles. Five is the most I’ve ever run at one time on my own time, and it was half of my weekly goal, so I set that for my benchmark before I would stop.
As I ran I was bombarded with feelings I’d thought I’d grown past as a runner. I felt tired. I felt thirsty and dry. There was an incessant ache that alternated between my knees and ankles, never really letting me alone. I made it three miles before I gave up and took a water break. After a quick drink of water, I went out for two more miles, stretched, and was done with it.
At this point, let me take a moment to advocate the importance of stretching. It’s important to stretch. I do a series of stretches from Cross Country practice, and these sometimes still aren’t enough. I was surprised by how sore I was when I got up today, and after only five miles. Always try to get a good stretch after running. If you’re curious about the stretches I do or have some great stretches you’d like to share, please comment below.
So this afternoon at school, one of my friends asked me if i was going to join in with Winter Running–a program my coach offers to keep runners active during the off season–which begins before school at 6:00. This will definitely kelp me keep consistent, but I struggle with the idea of committing to get up half an hour early every single day just to run. I hoard sleep like a kid hoards candy, so it’s hard to give up.
I’ve not yet decided whether joining the organized program is the best thing for me as a runner, and as a student, but it’s always important to be willing to make sacrifices for what you value. The cost of choosing one opportunity is the loss of another, and it’s important to be able to make that decision. I must decide whether to run less in order to be a better student, or to commit to an uncomfortably early running routine that makes it more difficult to be a good student.
Well, on Saturday I had my last Cross Country meet of the season and this presents a very important problem: How am I going to keep myself running without an organized program?
I’ve always had trouble with motivation.
So with Cross Country season over, I’ll need this blog and it’s readers even more to keep me running. I still have to keep up with school, but I’m going to shoot for at least 10 miles a week, preferably 21 if I manage to run every day.
Questions? Preferably at least slightly running related, but I’ll give my best answer to anything.
Sorry about the delay, I will be on a more regular schedule now and should post more frequently.
Not that I haven’t started running yet.
First off, I am going to try to make one post per week, or more if something interesting happens, but if It’s been a week and I haven’t posted anything, then please e-mail me ( email@example.com ) and tell me to get on top of things.
Just a little bit about me, in case you haven’t read the biography that I haven’t put up yet. I am a Junior at my highschool, where I am barely fast enough to be on the JV Cross Country team.
So the purpose of this blog is to run 42,000 miles, and to record it all here. A bonus of blogging this is that if I’m slacking, you will always know what mileage I’m at, and I might start setting weekly goals. So I’ll be answering to you if I don’t meet my quota.
I’ve never written a blog, or put any sort of narrative out there for the world to see. So if there’s something I left out, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me.
Until next mileage,