Thursday, September 22, 2011

Restless Legs

Anyone else get restless legs when you taper?

I’m taking a light week in advance of the Miracle Miles 15k this weekend, kind of a mini-taper.  My legs were bouncing up and down so hard during dinner last night that I almost toppled the wine glasses.  This was despite the fact that I ran 20 miles Sunday and had a vigorous speed workout Tuesday.  Missing a single mid-week 8-10 mile run has left me bouncing off the walls.

The last two weeks of October are going to be misery.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Am I an athlete?

Because I’m old and nostalgic, I reached for the dusty dictionary I keep within arm’s reach of my desk:

ath-lete (ath-leet)  n.  a person trained to compete in contests involving physical agility, stamina or strength; a trained competitor in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.

and because I’m not completely technologically inept, I also referenced

ath•lete  [ath-leet] 
a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.

I’ve seen this term bandied about recently, even by myself, but never in reference to myself.  I don’t consider myself an athlete.  Never have.

I played organized sports as a kid, swimming, soccer, baseball, etc.  By the time I reached high school those days were behind me, save for the occasional pick-up game with friends.

30 years later I find myself accomplishing things physically that I never dreamed possible. Does that make me an athlete?

I train.  I train hard.  4 to 5 days a week.  Speed work, hills, long runs, tempo runs, progression runs.  I put in the miles.  I improve.  Does that make me an athlete?

I enter contests.  I’ve even won a few awards.  Does that make me an athlete?

At what point do you become an athlete?  Is it when you enter your first competition? How about your 10th?

Could it be earlier than that?   Maybe it’s when you first start measuring your performance, striving to improve.

Is it a state of mind or something quantifiable?

I think it’s words like “skilled” and “gifted” that appear in the definitions that give me pause.  Those are the qualities of an athlete that I believe I lack.  A friend of mine recently pointed out that people like us are not “genetically endowed” with the qualities necessary to easily compete with those so gifted.


At least he didn’t shatter my dreams completely.  He qualified his comment with this:

. . . unless you want to hire a professional coach and do nothing else but train all day in a feeble attempt to improve your aerobic capacity beyond its natural limit.

Feeble?  Did he really have to say feeble?

He has a point though.  Skills are achievable with training, dedication and hard work.  Skills are still within my grasp.

Gifts, on the other hand, are by definition given.  “Genetically endowed,” as my friend would say.  Gifts are not a guarantee of success, but when combined with the work ethic required to hone skills . . . great things are achievable.

In my mind, that is the stuff of athletes.

I have been privileged during the course of my feeble quest for running skill to run with true athletes and the experience has always been inspiring.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weird Stuff in my Running Kit

Things that might be hard to explain to a non-runner without them questioning your sanity:

Band-Aid Dots
Body Glide
Duct Tape
Dr. Scholls Shoe Shot Powder
Gel Packets and an assortment of electrolyte tablets/powders/gels . . .
Ziploc baggies
Head Lamp/LED Flasher/Reflective Vest

and to think I used to believe all I needed for a run was a good pair of shoes, shorts and a shirt.