Monday, May 20, 2013

Life isn't a sprint, it's...well, yeah, actually it is a sprint

Between the ages of 13 and 18, I ran competitive track and field.

I was a sprinter, and I was actually pretty fast. Not "state champion" fast, but faster than most of my classmates. I got to win a lot of races and feel somewhat athletic in the process.

Sprinting was actually a lot of fun, because your work day was a relatively short one. When our team ran in one of those all-day relay meets, my schedule would look something like this:

  • 9 a.m. to Noon: Sit out in the sun and work on my tan.
  • Noon to 12:05 p.m.: Take off warm-up suit and stretch a little.
  • 12:05 to 12:10 p.m.: Walk over to the starting line for the 100-meter dash and try to look cool while waiting for the starter to tell us to take our marks.
  • 12:10 to 12:10 and 11 seconds: Run 100 meters as fast as I possibly could.
  • 12:11 to 12:15 p.m.: Put warm-ups back on and return to working on my tan.
  • Later in the meet: Repeat process for 200-meter dash and the occasional sprint relay event.
This was in stark contrast to the distance runners, whom I never understood.

For one thing, they had to run a long way. I mean, a long way. At least compared with the sprinters. Why, I wondered, would you opt to run 3,200 meters when you had the choice to run 100? Or even 200? Certainly no more than 400.

And their practice workouts were horrible. They involved running for impossibly long periods of time without stopping, and doing so ideally without throwing up.

The sprinters' workouts, meanwhile, would consist of a couple of spirited fast jogs around the track, and then we all went home to do our homework. I think our grades tended to be better than the distance runners'.

Anyway, I mention all of this because I have two kids running track now, one of whom (Chloe) is a distance runner. And wonder of wonders, I've become one myself.

Sort of.

I get up most mornings around 5:15 a.m. and amble three miles. Not very quickly, but I do it.

Which gives me a lot of time to think while I run. I think about all sorts of "big picture" things, and about life in general, I guess.

Sometimes I think about how quickly the last few decades have gone. For example, I remember being 10 years old. Vividly. And it seems like it couldn't have been more than about three weeks ago.

Yet here I am at the ripe age of 43 1/2. Not "old," really, but certainly not young.

And I begin to realize how sprinting prepared me for life. It taught me to go all out and take advantage of fast-fleeting opportunities. It taught me to compete, and compete hard. It taught me how to dig deep and find that extra gear in order to accomplish my goals.

It also taught me how to sun myself. I seriously had the best tan in the late 80s...


  1. You are mistaken Scott....distance runners throw-up all the time. Denise Klemencic chucked before races on a regular basis!!