Friday, December 4, 2015

Is the Beer Mile ruining Track & Field

The legendary Beer Mile has been a hot topic in the running world lately and even got some love on major news outlets. For those that don't know the official rules laid out by each competitor drinks four cans of beer and runs four laps, ideally on a track (start - beer, then lap, then beer, then lap, then beer, then lap - finish). The beers must be finished within the 10 meter zone before the start/finish line. Of course no throwing up, if you do, it warrants a penalty lap (or disqualification in some circles) that must be tacked on to the end. The rules get more specific about what beers can be drink and how they must be consumed. For those that haven't done one, it's as agonizing as it sounds, but a lot of fun when done with friends, teammates, or even rivals. Almost every distance runner I know has done one (legal or illegal) at least once during their career. It's sort of a right of passage in some ways. Over the last 10 years though I have watched beer miles go from underground to mainstream events with sanctioned rules and entry fees. A far cry from sneaking onto tracks late at night in hopes of not being caught.

When the Beer Mile first started grabbing some headlines in the last few years I thought it was awesome. I even saw where a few were actually becoming sanctioned events. But starting in 2012 the publicity really seemed to steam roll each year. A lot of it started with Nick Symmonds (2x Olympian and World Championship Silver Medalist at 800m) talking a big game on social media and Flotrack about training to break the World Record back after the Olympic Games that year. Nick has done wonders for publicity of the track and field athletes and found creative ways to market himself and make his product valuable to sponsors. At the time I thought that the beer mile was a punk rock way of making running a bit cooler to the masses by seeing an Olympian pound beer and run his ass off. He has been very vocal about how his beer mile on YouTube has more views than any of his other race videos (which I don't think he counts his 2012 Olympic race). Which to me and hopefully Nick is a little disturbing. Hopefully Nick will be remembered by the masses as a clutch performer that won U.S. Titles and World Champs medals, opened avenues for track and field athletes to make more money, and leave the sport a better place than when he started, not by his ability to chug beer and run 4 laps.

If track and field ever wants to be taken serious how can one of the biggest draws be an event involving chugging beer? While it is a skill, not really an athletic event. The beer mile belongs more in the circus than an athletic competition. Would you ever see the MLB, NFL, NBA, MLS, or NHL include an event that involves chugging a beer and doing their sport? Even dizzy bat at baseball games is reserved for lucky fans or mascots to do for entertainment, but not sport, and more importantly no beer. While it can be fun to watch, it should never be the main draw at a sporting event. In a sport that struggles to get respect from many other athletes and the public, do we want to be doing more to hurt our credibility. It's sad that a beer mile "athlete" got on The Ellen Show before an actual Olympian or Olympic hopeful ever could. Many will argue that any press is good press, but in this case, I'd rather see no press. This wasn't an Olympian or Professional track athlete that also can chug beer really well, it's a guy with very modest times that happens to be able to chug beer really well. And we wonder why we struggle to get respect from full-time professional sports and new outlets when we as a sport have chosen to make this a huge deal.
Another issue I take with big time beer mile races is that they are offering big cash prizes and getting sponsorship opportunities to be a "professional beer mile athlete" by running shoe companies that supposedly care about promoting the brand of track and field. I think it is getting out of hand and doesn't deserve to be considered professional or a part track and field. Would the likes of Brooks and Under Armour be sponsoring beer mile athletes if they were the main sponsors for track and field like Nike, Adidas, or ASICS? I say no. I think it goes against the integrity that those companies support for in track and field. It is a side show that belongs beside color runs and zombie runs for people that are looking to have fun on a Saturday with their friends. 

 Events like the recent FloTrack Beer Mile "World Championships" takes attention and money away from real professional track and field athletes, many who struggle to live above the poverty line. With athletes like Nick Symmonds, Adam Nelson and many others fighting for our rights to be able to make more money and support ourselves in a sport that has no support from a league or teams, having a group like FloTrack waste money and publicity on a goofy side show is a big step backwards. If they really want to bring "Track Back" then they and their partners should be spending all of their resources on making the sport more appealing to the masses, not dumbing it down for a laugh and a few internet views. The $5,000 that was just rewarded to each winner at the FloTrack Beer Mile "World Championships" could've gone a long way to supporting struggling athletes in track and field. That is money that could've been poured into an event that was great for the sport like the FloTrack Throwdown this past August. With a few thousand dollars spread across a few races, that would've guaranteed people would've have shown up to compete and show new fans what real racing looks like!

Track meets like the FloTrack Throwdown, Hoka One One Long Island Mile, Sir Walter Miler, St. Louis Festival of Miles, and many others that are popping up are Bringing Track Back and great examples of growing the sport at the grass roots levels, connecting athletes with an audience and giving athletes a chance to compete on our home turf in United States in front of big crowds. All of these meets brought spectators out by the thousands for a chance to see top American athletes racing their balls off for the raucous crowds and a payday. The fans got to see up close and personal what the speed of top level athletes looks like. They also brought out tons of kids: the people we need to hook at a young age who will become life long fans of the sport. Having had the chance to participate in several of these events, kids of all ages go nuts with the chance to be so close to athletes and interact with them before and after the races. I know so many of us felt like real professional athletes after these races when kids and adults were swarming everyone for pictures, autographs, high fives, and selfies. We weren't racing in front of a bunch of other athletes and a few family members. We were racing in front of real crowds, with real enthusiasm for racing. Is a beer mile good at bringing a community together or the sport to inspire people with their abilities? Are parents going to want to take their kids out to watch a bunch of people chug beer and attempt to run? I guess the question isn't for me to answer, but the sport and the public to answer.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

You Can't Separate Life

You can't separate out your life no matter how hard you try.  Just as I was beginning to process all the craziness of this year and prepare for next year,  my world was upended by the loss of one of my best friends and training partner, Cameron "Cron$ity, Magnum" Bean.  This blog was supposed to be a recap of the highlights of my most exciting season of racing, but before I knew it all I could write about was memories with Cameron.  One thing I have learned over the last 8 years of my tumultuous life and running career, is that you can't separate life out into different categories, they all end up affecting the other, despite how hard you try sometimes.  As much as I have tried at times, they are too intertwined.  So the only justifiable way to write this blog is to intertwine the ups and downs of a great year that ended tragically.

Fighting for a top 10 place at USATF Road Mile Champs

This year
First sub 4 min equivalent in the Furman 1500m
was by far the best and most consistent year of my post collegiate running career.  Not only was I able to compete well in every race that I was in this year, but I ran my first sub 4 min equivalent in May with a 3:42 showing for 1500m and then running my first official sub 4 minute mile in August this year.  I managed to notch my first top 10 finish at the USATF National event at the USATF Road Mile Championships and didn't finish outside the top 10 in any race this year.  With almost a year of health (no auto-immune related issues) I really started to enjoy competing again.  The
Introduction at Hoka One One Long Island Mile
most exciting part of the season was being able to be apart of the of the best grassroots races in the country, the St. Louis Festival of Miles, Sir Walter Miler, and the Hoka One One Long Island Mile. Everyone of these races brought between a 1,000 and 2,000+ people to watch a bunch of skinny guys and girls run in a circle.  These races are making new fans of the sport every single year. Which is exactly what the sport of track and field needs.  My last 4 races in July, August and September, were my best of the year.  I beat loads of people with better credentials, more resources and more experience.  But unfortunately my worst race of the season turned out to be the one that feels much different months later.

Cameron and I took at trip to Indianapolis, ID in mid June to run what was a last chance race to get a qualifying mark for the USATF Track and Field Championships.  The meet turned out to be a complete wash after a storm blew through and many competitors chose to ditch the competition and settle on their times.  Well not Cameron and I.  We were there and we were gonna race.  We both missed the qualifying standards that night, and we both returned back to the High Country with very sour tastes in our mouths at the lack of competition compared to years past.  It was sour because I had spent over $700 on travel and accommodations for the trip.  I would have been happy to spend had it produced a qualifying mark, but to not get a chance to race solid competition and poor rabbiting (I won by 7 seconds), I was very upset.  I was bitter for weeks as I awaited my next opportunity to race at the end of July.  Looking back now though, I am grateful for this trips since I got to spend those 3 days traveling and lounging around the hotel with Cameron.  We always managed to do an amazing job of entertaining ourselves and keeping the mood light, despite the stress of the race.  We wasted away hours taking near naked snapchats together and sending them to our girlfriends, we had nap offs to see who could sleep the longest, and of course watched hours of SportsCenter and chick-flicks.  Of course the topic of the future for both of us was always something to discuss.  We both always had some sort of crazy new idea or venture we were chasing after.  Over the years we spent hours bouncing idea after idea off of each other.  I'd say 99% of them have never seen the light of day, but we were always scheming.  Looking back now though, I'm so happy that I got to spend those 3 days together.  We made memories that I will always cherish.

I come to realize how lucky I was with Cameron and so many of my other friends.  As a professional (or semi-pro in my case) athlete, we get the chance to spend thousands of hours with some of our closest friends.  Most young adults in their mid and late 20s don't get that chance to spend so much time with their friends because of jobs, family, and the other things that bog down life.  Right now I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten to spend a large part of the last 4 years working, training, traveling, going out and clowning, with Cameron.  I'm not saying that people don't get to spend time with their friends, but when you live near and spend hours a day, many of those hanging your guts out, you develop a bond with certain people that runs deep as blood.  When Cameron said I love you, and I said it back, we both meant it, with all the weight those words carry.

See Cameron and I were a bit of out cast together when he first moved to Blowing Rock, NC to pursue his dream of professional running with Zap Fitness.  He was the kid with no contract and goofy outgoing personality and I was the crazy kid from App State, who both loved to party as much as we loved running.  I first meet Cameron my first year at Appalachian State, he had been the cocky, longed haired dude wearing a girls jersey at Samford, the we all at App hated.  But we hated him because he was good and showed it.  When he moved here he was full on Cron $ity, and unapologetic.  He was exactly who he was and he wasn't going to change that just because he moved to the mountains of North Carolina with a bunch of meek skinny distance runners.  It wasn't long after he arrived that we both hit it off.  I must say quickly became one of his biggest fans and pulled hard for him to make a splash at Zap and Nationally on the track.  I still remember some of my old teammates giving me shit for hanging out with him.  Cameron as an opponent was a guy you loved or hated, I just so happened to love him now.  But guess who stepped up to the plate to help me stay in the high country and continue to chase my dream when I decided to keep running after college?  He got me a job waiting tables and assisting the Inn Keeper at Gideon Ridge Inn in Blowing Rock where he was waiting tables.  Cameron showed me that you have to do what you have to do till you can do what you love to do, and we both loved running.  And over the next 4 years, despite me moving away for a year and a half, we remained very close.  At times talking on the phone almost weekly.  He was also one of the reasons I moved back up here.  Being around him and training with his energy was something that was contagious and something I had missed being back home.

Just one of our many goofy selfies after a tandem mo 
When I arrived back up the mountain in 2013, I was fat, bloated, and recovering from a month of chemotherapy as well as learning to cope with my newly diagnosed anxiety and depression issues.  Cameron would swing by where I was living on my friends' couch and hang out for hours.  He and I even took a trip to a waterfall outside of town on his motorcycle, with me hugging on the back.  The picture on the left was taken that day.  It was a time where I was exploring other options and didn't know if I wanted to keep running, but as soon as I took some of those first steps, he showed up and slugged away with me.  As he had always been, he was super encouraging through the whole process and was there the day everything finally clicked for me and I realized I could and wanted to still chase my dreams.  Every fall before Zap Fitness would leave for the winter, I would grind out long runs, tempo runs, and fartleks as we all hammered our way into shape.  These were his bread and butter workouts and he would always put me in my place.  Falls were also times for things like Hot Tub Sunday, Thursday nights out on the town, Halloween parties, and fires down at Zap.  It's a time when most distance runners are a little less keyed up with the spring and summer track season still a few months away.  So for Cameron and many of us, this was time to have some fun, while training our asses off.

I also think back to many of those long runs over the years where we would talk for what seemed like forever.  Neither of us has ever been one short for words, so it was almost a fight for one of us to get our thoughts out.  If one of us was on a roll about something we eventually learned to let the other one just go, because we obviously needed it.  Over those 4 years we both grew up a ton, going from shithead post collegians with huge dreams to weathered men who have spent years chasing a nearly unattainable dream. While we both grew up a lot over the last 4 years, I can honestly say we were both still true to ourselves.

James Snyder, Ryan Vanhoy, Cron$ity
Losing someone never gets easier.  I have unfortunately lost too many already at my young age of 28.  In fact, I realized that I have been to more funerals than weddings, and that is a lopsided statistic for someone my age.  What's even more strange is that I didn't know any different.  I thought that most people had experienced death in the same volume I had.  It wasn't till recently that I realized so few people my age had ever lost anyone in their life, much less several friends and loved ones.  Of course to cope with all of this and not end up in a dark depression I was drinking a lot.  My normal 2 week break at the end of the season turned into a 3 week break then into 2 more weeks of attempting to run, but just not having the energy to get started.  This was accompanied by drinking other bad habits every night so that I could even get some sleep. Definitely not the best way to start off my training cycle for the 2016 Olympic Trials.  It's what I felt like I had to do to cope with the numbness from the loss and the lack of excitement and adrenaline from racing and training.  For me this is easily replaced with extreme behaviors that become hard to break.  Just a few days ago I had to finally stop drinking every night or my runs were going to continue to be lackluster at best, and my performance would suffer.  That day marked over 6 weeks that I was drinking heavily everyday.  It honestly wasn't till I was spending some much needed time with Mom and Dad that I realized how much I needed it to get through a day.  It's funny how little things like that can be the things that flip the switch in your mind.  That switch went off, but I wasn't able to control it till I realized that I wasn't going to be able to reach my goals this year if I didn't get my head out of my ass and get back out there.  Besides Cron would've been pissed at me for not getting out there and training.  That's the last thing I want to do this year is waste it because that's not how you honor your friend who lived life with no excuses.

Cron $ity had so much energy left to share with the world.  I know people all believe different things about a person's soul, but regardless of those beliefs I know the laws of physics says that energy is neither created nor destroyed.  So, since he can't personally share that energy with the rest of the world, it's his friends' and family's responsibility to share that energy with the world.  Cameron may you Rest In Peace with dubstep blasting and your car horn blaring to announce your arrival into the afterlife.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Unforgiving Sport

The word unforgiving is defined as conditions of harsh or hostile.  By this definition I consider track and field to be the most unforgiving sport.  That's clearly a bold statement, but believe me I have my data.  Despite how beautiful and simple the sport can seem on the surface, it's far more complex than the average person or even average athlete can ever understand.  Training and competing is painful, long, relentless, heartbreaking, meticulous, maniacal, and unpredictable.  It's a sport that is often decided on tenth's of seconds, and millimeters in height or distance.  Those minuscule measurements can be deciding factor in an entire season or even a career.  Track athletes train for months and years at a time out of the spot light of cameras and press, for a hand full of competitions each year.  One small falter can unravel all the hard work.  A season or career lives on a razor's edge.

My statement may be a bit unfair to other sports that are often decided by small margins as well, but I am going to convince you otherwise.  I know that you are all thinking that an entire season can come down to the last few seconds in all the Major Sports (football, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, etc), but that's the big difference. The season length and dynamic is completely different in track and field.  Professional football plays a 16 week regular season over 4 months plus playoffs, basketball plays 82 regular season games over 5 months plus playoffs, and baseball plays an ungodly 162 games over 6 months plus playoffs.  For most players and teams injury, illness, and luck all play into the final season outcome.  Players will be sidelined due to injury, or miss a game(s) with illness, but the overwhelming majority of those players that miss time return for the rest of the season or just in time for the playoffs, most are rarely out for the remainder of the season.  Hell often times players (especially older players) in basketball or baseball will willingly sit out games to help save themselves for the last few crucial regular season games or the playoffs.

Track and field has turned into a primarily exhibition sport.  Every meet, except the Olympics/World Championships or Olympic/World Championship Trials if an athlete is from a country that doesn’t select its teams, is optional. Therefore all track and field fans are basically watching practice or exhibitions the majority of the time.  There is no regular schedule of meets all athletes have to follow or agree upon.  For most people that miss those Olympic opportunities, a regular racing season may span just 3 or 4 months, but that most often means only 8-10 races in a season, of which only 3-4 may be looked at as races to peak (meaning that training cycles are geared towards just a select few races). Which is ironic because it’s this fact that can make the Olympics/World Championships so compelling. Four years of work, or in many cases a runner’s entire career, comes down to one or two races held once every four years.  Couple that with match ups between rivals who have successfully dodged each other all season or for multiple season (Coe v Ovett, Gatlin v Bolt, etc...).  Compare that to other sports, where most teams play each other at least once and every season concludes in a championship at the end of a regular season.  So that's a shot once a year.  But for track and field athletes these moments only happen once every 4 years.

To me the most unforgiving aspect of running is that so many of us can be victims of our own work ethic.  Running to much or too hard or too often, will often be counter productive to success. You don't hear basketball players saying they shot too many shots, football players saying they caught too many passes or ran too many routes, golfers saying they took too many putts, soccer players working too much on their balls skills, etc...  As a distance runner you walk a very fine edge between peak fitness and over training.  We all live by our work ethic.  You will hardly ever meet an elite distance runner that doesn't think that they are outworking their competition.  Most of us have this internal drive to work hard and push our bodies' to their physical and mental limits to achieve our goals.  Running also requires periodized prep work to prepare the body to handle the rigors of a racing season and performing at 100% on race day.  Peak performance in track and field can't be faked or shortened.  In most instances (occasionally freak things happen) the right amount of time must be spent in each phase of training, so even an injury or illness in any of the phases can set back all the remaining phases and timing.  That's also why the important races and build up can be so unforgiving, it can all be derailed by so many different variables.  And once you are out, you can't just jump back out on the field or court and be game ready in a few days or weeks.

As much as I hate it and as many times as I have been on the bad sad of those unforgiving circumstances in track and field,  I wouldn't have it any other way.  I feel that athletes in other sports don't appreciate their sport the same way that track and field athletes do.  When you have struggled and fallen you truly appreciate (and often loath) the great performances of your peers and athletes around the world.  We have a much better understanding of everything it takes for great performances to happen and how rare and challenging those pinnacles are to ascend.  It may be unforgiving but I wouldn't change a damn thing about it.  I love our sport being different and misunderstood!  If it was easy and like everything else, everyone would want to join....  I challenge anyone to prove me wrong in the comments section.

All Hope is Gone!


PS - share away and lets get to 5,000 views!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Comeback 4.0 - Quiet Confidence, Loud Voice

I have officially started Comeback 4.0.  That's 3 bouts with my autoimmune disease and 1 hernia repair surgery all in the last 7 years.  What still drives me to drag my ass back into shape year after year, setback after setback.  Sometimes I really have no clue.  Mainly it's because I've not accomplished what I set out to do as an athlete when I decided to continue competing after college.  But it clearly has to be more than that right?  Since that decision I have had to start from complete scratch 3 times now.  My friend and life partner Chris Moen pointed out recently over a wonderful post run breakfast that it was incredible and crazy that I hadn't hung them up yet and continued to keep racing despite all the setbacks.  He may not have realized the small comment (which I highly doubt since he chooses his words carefully), but the comment landed hard.  It made me take a step back and look at all I've had to battle just in the last few years.  A smarter person would have probably hung up the spikes years ago, but the intensity of training and racing are intoxicating (way more intoxicating than any drug or alcohol I've experienced).

This past fall and winter was a real struggle for me mentally not being able to train because of an injury that no one could find the right diagnosis.  Since the hernia diagnoses and surgery, I have found a surprising relief and clarity very different than my battles with Wegener's Granuloma.  If there is one thing that I have learned about myself during all my setbacks as an athlete, it's that I am incredibly good at being focused during these setbacks as well as pounding my body back into shape.  And when I say pound, Moen can tell you, I mean pound day after day, run after run till I'm ready.  A younger me would definitely be much more antsy and frustrated, but I have found a confidence in myself that I haven't felt in years.  Who would've thought that months of spotty training and injury could bring out that confidence.  Maybe it is just age and learning, but I know that regardless of my current situation and fitness, come May, June, July, and August I will be light years ahead of last year and ready to scalp!  I know I'm now 28 years old, but I know I'm finally start spreading some inspiration however small and start to make a name for myself.

Why am I beating a dead horse of the comeback story?   I'm tired of being silent and trying to just let my legs do the talking.  I've done that the last 3 years and it has gotten me no where.  I still have to work way too many long hours behind a desk and that affects my energy levels and performance on some level.  I have no sponsor to help with travel cost, apparel, shoes, and all the other amenities and security that a sponsor can provide.  No agent to fight for me to get into meets, or help me attract sponsors.  So I am left to fight for myself every step of the way.  But that hasn't stopped me so far and I refuse to let it stop me now.  Slowly through the help of groups like Bring Back the Mile and SCRunners, I've been given the opportunity to voice my story and hopefully raise my stock value for the coming season.  I have taken to badgering every brand that I can find contact info on and shoving my story in their face.  I won't go quietly and one company is going to be lucky for backing me before my story and career gain traction this summer.

To anyone else out there feeling like they are constantly getting knocked down and can't gain traction, keep fighting for what you know is right and what makes you happy.  If you aren't chasing dreams in life then where is the fun in living?

All Hope is Gone

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Your Own Worst Enemy

Ever heard the phrase, "being your own worst enemy"?  Or that catchy song from LIT in the 90s?  Either way, the phrase is so true to many of us sports addicts.  At times we can be our own worst enemies.  The things that make us successful are often times the same thing that can unravel our physical and mental stability. Successful people have develop traits through their life that set them apart from their peers.  I have also seen these same traits drive people crazy and cause them to lose the very things they set out to accomplish (another topic for another day, why are so many successful people drug and alcohol addicts?).  Why is it that the world works like this?  Shouldn't it reward those that have the right traits, work hard, and have earned their status?  Well as we all know that's just not how this world works and of course it is not fair, but this is one of the beauties and horrors of life.

I know from an athletic perspective certain traits tend to make you a successful athlete within your discipline.  Hard work, determination, commitment, self punishment, desperation, discipline, etc... the list goes on and on.  All these traits (along with a little luck) enable an athlete to reach the pinnacle of their respective sports.  People like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali, and Brett Farve are just a few names that pop to my mind when you think about physically gifted athletes that also had an incredible drive to not just win but to dominate.  For those familiar with any of these athletes, we have also seen the down side to some of these traits as athletes age and suffer setbacks.  In their peaks they were willing to do anything to win, and sometimes that comes at the cost of their own bodies and psyche.  Jordan, Woods, Ali and Farve all saw what age and a few defeats can do to unravel a career that seemed other worldly at it's peak.  When they were all on top of their respective games, they were as unbeatable as they come.  They not only had the mental make up of a champion, but the physical tools to see their visions of victory through to their goal.  This same determination and drive can also cause illusions of grandeur as a career fades or through adversity of injuries or setbacks (a la Woods).  To continue to be successful through these hard times requires readjusting practices that once were tried and true methods to success at an earlier age.

One of the most powerful sports documentaries I have ever seen is the ESPN 30 for 30 on Muhammad Ali as he prepares to fight Larry Holmes at the end of his career.  To watch The Greatest prepare and realize as an outsider that there was no physical way the he was going to win, was painful to watch.  You could still see flashes of his brilliance, but the speed, stamina, and sharpness that made him The Greatest was long gone.  Most people I believe chalk this up to a sportsman that just didn't know when to quit and had too many people around him making too much money to tell him no.  I see it a little different.  The Champion didn't think he could lose and quite honestly didn't believe he had to prepare differently from the past.  For him to have been successful at the age of 39 years old would have required a much different approach than any of his previous fights.  His body just wasn't capable of taking the pounding that a younger Champ could handle.  I saw someone that had become his own worst enemy in his career.  His mental toughness and tenacity is what made him one of the greatest athletes to walk this earth, but that same tenacity is why today at 73 he can barely walk, struggles to talk, and has battled Parkinson's since the early 1980s.

I am a firm believer that most people give up too soon on their dreams or aspirations in life.  Most people are afraid to take their bodies or their mind's to the level of people like Ali. Jordan, Woods, Farve.  Ali got everything out of his physical talent, granted it came at the cost of his physical health later in life, it gave us a rare look at what humans can do when they are truly committed and confident.  Obviously, in those later years Ali became his own worst enemy, because in his mind he was still the greatest that ever fought, but physically he was no longer the fighter he was in his golden years.

This internal drive that makes people successful can also cause their demise.  Often times this comes from supreme confidence or desire to succeed.   Successful people are used to getting their ways and performing at certain levels, and when that level cannot be achieved, then instead of backing off and refreshing like most people would do, highly successful people tend to go the other direction.  They throw more and more energy into their mission, often at the consequence of their body, loved ones, or emotional stability.  To be a successful person and in particular a successful athlete, one has to be able to handle defeat, injury, illness, and adversity.  I believe during these times, is when it is the most important to rest and reset the body both mentally and physically.  Even as I recommend this, it's hard for me to follow my own advice.  See through injury, illness, and adversity so often working hard and throwing myself to the grind stone, is what has made me a semi-successful athlete.  Working hard is the only thing I know how to do.

As many runners and athletes know, most injuries and setbacks occur from pushing too hard at the wrong times.  It takes an extremely confident person to relax and not push the envelope at each opportunity.  It takes confidence in physical abilities and preparation.  This is why coaches are so important.  They are often better gauges of what is too much or too little for each athlete.  It's hard for me to take it easy.  I literally have to have someone remind me to relax.  Over the years I have been described by many (including my father) as not having an off switch.  That's why I still have a coach, even if he isn't physically near me, he understands that it is easy for me to over do it and push too hard.  This fall and winter if I had not felt like a know it all and admitted I was more hurt than I was letting on then I wouldn't still be battling an injury from August, and would have already addressed it properly.  Instead I am facing more doctors visits and unknown answers.  So the best advice I can give all my athletes or younger athletes, listen to your body and your coach.  Don't always try to tough your way through every situation, even if it's all you know.  Growing older requires that we approach situations differently.  If not it will eventually catch up with you, just like it has every other great athlete!

As always!
All Hope is Gone