10/1/08

Seriousness and Limitations?

"The most beautiful motion is that which accomplishes the greatest results with the least amount of effort." PLATO

Unedited:
Are humans supposed to run a 3:43.13 Mile (Hicham El Guerrouj)? Are humans supposed to run a marathon in 2:04: 26 (Haile Gebrselassie) at a 4:45 minute mile pace? Do runners keep progressing to an obsession that they need to find the next best thing to test their bodies to the very limits?

Runners find the question of “what is the difference between a runner and a jogger?” a very touchy subject. Some would say that a “jogger” is someone that does not take running very seriously. Those who run every once in a while, never very fast and NEVER enters races. I recently also got an answer quoting the late Dr. George Sheehan, Runner’s World Columnist and running philosopher, the difference was a signature on a race application (yes, back in the day, you had to fill out race applications by hand or mail it in.)

So as runners, do we take running to another level (other than just jogging)? Do we train to satisfy the pure craving of our mental state in a pure addiction of running?

As runners we tend to run for many reasons. Some may simply join the NY Flyers for the social networking of approximately 650 members, while others may simply be joining to purely race for the team. Yes, many of us are in for all of the above. We, as a team, provide a very diverse membership from people to paces and we should be proud of this nature. We are not a team that strives to contain the very fastest runners in NYC or try to fly in members or extend memberships to runners just for team races. We are runners who appreciate running for what it simply is. Running.

As a running group we offer many different amenities for our runners from group runs to speedwork, we post our personal bests and provide a marathon training program. We provide all these for our members to help them succeed in their individual goals or individual aspirations in running. But an individual, it is up to that person to find what they are looking for in running.

Some runners would that try our very best to succeed. Running to them may not be just for fun, but to obtaining a Personal Best in all the races they do. They may train to the very limits: running high mileage, adding in tempo runs and doing speedwork. We train in below freezing weather to torrential downpour to even heat exhaustion, we push the envelope against mother nature, where sometimes these are very dangerous conditions. Some will push their thresholds to far exceed what their minds can actually take. Some will push through injuries where they know that they should stop, but risk it because they need to do it to satisfy their goals. Are we simply addicted to running?

While running in the 24 hour (27 hour in our case) relay of Reach the Beach relay race this past month, I learned many things about myself through this experience. The relay was to be a fun experience for all those who had joined. Think about it, you run with a ten other runners, of all different levels and capabilities, packed up in a van and keep running for 24 hours. Weather permitting some ran in cool New England weather, while others ran in the rain or in the sun. We all had to run in the pure darkness, where you had to run with a safety vest, blinkers and headlamp. Our team had to run more than the usual where many members had to run a totaling the mileage as much as a marathon distance and no less than 15 miles through the rolling hills of New Hampshire. The experience and scenery was a breathtaking and the team performed even better than expected.

Maybe it was the exhaustion or lack of sleep, the mileage that my body has taken over the trip. I looked at each of these legs and raced them for my own time. I am the type of who I had explained above as a serious runner. I am a runner who is an absolute hypocrite in dishing out helpful information, but too stubborn to even listen to my own advise. The real question is: Do I take running too seriously? Many teammates even approached me saying that I had my “game face” on and they could not even talk to me before the race because I looked too serious. I raced my second to last leg of the race, which equal to heartbreak hills in the Boston marathon to steep downhill’s like the San Francisco Marathon and by the end of the run, I was cooked. Mentally I reached my limits during the run to the point where I needed to smile to keep a positive attitude. If I had not done that, I would have lost my mental state and broken down and even considered stopping. I had reached the wall, but I had a reason to continue and those were my teammates.

I had raced all 4 of my legs, I had reach the wall and I had the ambition to continue. I was there because I wanted to race. In the end, I had been frustrated at some of my teammates because some did not push themselves to there limits. But why was I frustrated at them? I realized I was wrong and only frustrated at myself for losing perspective of this whole trip all together. This trip was to have fun, enjoy the experience and be with your teammates. In the end, I realized that running is not everything; but still deserves a pedestal amongst our priorities.

A self evaluation had brought me to come up with five good pointers in running:
1) Balance - You need to balance in life. Running may bring the social, exercise and volunteer aspect, but there is also work/school, other friends and family and other activities.
2) Exercise – We all run to keep in shape, right?
3) Competition - Competition is good. Though, keep in mind, we are not professionals. Keep a good clean, fun and healthy sportsmanship will be more rewarding in the end.
4) Happiness - Know that running brings you happiness, if this does not, then why do it?
5) Healthy - Keep it healthy: Always listen to your body (and friends) sometimes you are blindsided by your goals. People end up continuing and making injuries worse rather than preventing an injury that can be avoided.

We, as runners, all have our hopes and dreams in our running ambitions. We all know that we are limited in what we can do, but we can always improve. Many of us take running to a serious manner, but in the end we need to keep a good perspective of running and everything else in life.


Edited:
Are humans supposed to run a 3:43.13 mile like Hicham El Guerrouj? Or a 2:03:59 marathon, like Haile Gebrselassie just accomplished, at a sub-4:44 minute-per-mile pace? Do all runners obsess until they find the next way to test their bodies to the limits?

Some runners find the question, “What is the difference between a runner and a jogger?” a very touchy one. Some classify a “jogger” as one who does not take running very seriously (e.g., those who run every once in a while, don’t run very “fast”, or don’t set out to achieve specific goals, such as improving one’s pace or increasing distance.) I recently received an answer quoting the late Dr. George Sheehan, former Runner’s World medical editor and running philosopher, who suggested the difference between a runner and a jogger was a signature on a race application. (Yes, back in the day one filled out race applications by hand!)

So, as members of a “running” club, what level do we take running to? Do we train to satisfy a craving? Are we addicted to running?

We tend to run for many reasons. Some of you may have joined the NY Flyers for the social network of approximately 650 members, others for the group training runs or to find running partners, while some may have joined to race for a team. And many of us are in it for all of the above—runners who simply appreciate running.

We, as a team, represent a very diverse membership of people and paces and we should be proud of this. We offer many different amenities for our runners, from group runs to speedwork, to personal bests on the Web site to the Marathon Training Program. We provide all this for our members to help them succeed in their individual goals and aspirations in running. But, as individuals, it is up to us to define what we are looking for.

Some runners try their very best to succeed. Running to them may not be just for fun, but in order to obtain PRs in all the races they do. Some train to the very limits: running high mileage, adding in tempo runs, and doing speedwork. Some train in below-freezing weather, torrential downpours, and dangerous conditions threatening hypothermia or heat exhaustion, pushing the envelope against Mother Nature. Some will push their thresholds to far exceed what their minds can actually take, or push through injuries when they know that they should stop, but risk continuing because they need to satisfy their goals.

While running in the 24-hour (27-hour, in our case) Reach the Beach Relay race this past month, I learned many things about myself. The relay was intended to be a fun experience for all those who had joined. Think about it: 10 runners of all different levels and capabilities, packed into a van, running over 209 miles throughout the night. We encountered cool New England evenings, nippy mornings, rain, sunshine, mountains, and sea. We ran in pure darkness, decked out in safety vests, blinkers, and headlamps. With a smaller than ideal team and individual’s mileage totaling just under 15 miles to a full marathon distance, we lived the rolling hills of New Hampshire. The experience and scenery were breathtaking and the team performed even better than expected.

Maybe it was the exhaustion, the lack of sleep, or the mileage that my body tackled over the trip. I had looked at each of these legs and raced them for time. By the end of my last leg of the relay—which felt equal to Boston’s Heartbreak Hills and San Francisco’s steep downhills—I was cooked. I had reached my limits, to the point where I needed to make myself smile to keep a positive attitude. If I had not done that, my mental state was such that I may have broken down and even considered stopping. I reached the wall, but I had a reason to continue. And that was my team.

Many teammates have approached me in the past, saying that they can not talk to me before a race when I have my “game face” on. Yes, I am the type who would be classified as a “runner” above, usually too stubborn to heed my own advice. I guess the real question is: do I take running too seriously?

Reflecting on the experience, I’ve come up with five new credos for running:
1. Balance: You need to balance. Running may bring the social, exercise, and volunteer aspects to your life, but there are also work/school, other friends, and family activities to appreciate.
2. Exercise: We all run to keep in shape and relieve stress, right?
3. Competition: Competition is good. Keep in mind, however, that we are not professionals. Good, clean, fun, and healthy sportsmanship will be more rewarding in the end.
4. Happiness: Running should bring you happiness. If it does not, then why do it?
5. Health: Always listen to your body (really) and don’t be blindsided by your goals. It doesn’t make sense to injure oneself doing an activity to keep you healthy!

I participated in the Reach the Beach relay because I wanted to race—but I nearly lost perspective of the trip altogether. The purpose was to have fun, enjoy the experience, and be with my teammates. In the end, I realized that running is a priority, but it’s not everything. Know your limitations, strive for balance, and don’t take running too seriously. Running brings happiness. That should be enough to make me smile.

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