Last One Doesn’t Count
Posted on February 24 2010
I really didn’t have much to write about today until the 9th interval.
The team ready to start the ninth one, the “last one”, the one before the one that doesn’t count. As we walk to the starting line I overhear a conversation between Amrit and Kuo;
Kuo: I’m going to go easy on this one to save for the last one.
Amrit: Dude just go same pace, it’s not about the last one, it’s about the workout.
For us the last one isn’t about going all out when you’re not tired, it’s about going all out when there’s nothing left. It’s about daring our bodies to go the extra step, and then that step becomes two, and three and it turns into whatever distance our final interval is. For us the final interval is optional every single time, we could always take it easy on the last one, just focus on finishing, but it’s never a question of whether we do it or not, it’s about doing it as hard as we can.
We always come up with excuses; “ten?? Let’s just do eight” or “I’m feeling a bit tired, I’ll just take it easy today”, and it always starts out that way, but it never ends up that way. On the speed workouts we always find a way to kill the last one, to leave nothing in the tank. On the distance runs that start out slow we always inch anxiously as we get closer to the final mile. Our long, humorous conversations start to die down and it’s crunch time. The road narrows, stop lights become annoying rather than relief, and the rhythmic pitter-patter of our feet turns into a frenzy of quick and fast steps.
We’re all born with some natural talent for running, at least a thirst for it, but what sets apart the good runners from the great runners is the commitment to excellence. The ones who can’t wait to finish just so that they can go home will never be better than good, but today no one was good. We were all great. We pushed each and every one of those 300s, we ran every one at the same hard pace, not going over the top to kill ourselves, but hitting them fast enough and in control enough so that each and every one was at that time.
The most amazing thing about it as that no one has to do the work. No one has to run ten 300s or run 1o miles in the hills, and yet somehow we manage to always do it with a smile or a joke. Sure we complain about it every now and then, but when we lace up those running shoes and set out to make some love with the trails, there’s no stopping us. Each turn is taken with hope for a new spectacular view, each hill tackled with the same vigor, and each and every run enjoyed to the fullest. We don’t do it for the grade, for the fame, or for anything or anyone else; we do it for ourselves, we do it because we’re hooked on the runner’s high, and we do it because we’re in love with it.
Telling a distance runner that he ran well or fast doesn’t really tell him anything. But when someone runs with balls, now that’s something to be proud of. Running despite the pain in your legs, the constant reminder from your brain to slow down and take it easy, and the lure of doing something easier. In any other sport you can take it easy; you can just trot along in a soccer game, call a timeout in basketball, walk a batter in baseball, and get subbed out in football; but in running there is no stopping. Our egos will not permit it, no matter how much it hurts, the shame of walking or even slowing down is too much to bear. It urges us forward, it plays with our minds, it tells us that there isn’t that much left, “only a mile to go!” “four minutes of running left!”, good runners who are having a bad day will think, “four whole minutes?!” but great runners, good or bad day, will think “let’s make it three and a half minutes of running” and soldier on.
I’ve used this quote many many times, but it just never gets old and it always applies:
“Be average, be good, or be great, the choice is yours”
Let’s have a great season.