Three Fundamental Principles Of Running
By Blake Boldon
This summer I was asked to speak at a couple high school camps and without a specific knowledge of everything covered at the camp, my challenge was developing a relevant subject. I thought about what lessons are universally applicable to all track and field athletes and distance runners no matter their competitive level or age. After reflecting on my years as a coach and as an athlete I found three fundamental principles.
1. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Set Goals! Much has been said and written about goal setting; probably because setting goals is the first step to any achievement. Goals serve as the compass for training and racing so be sure to use a combination of long term and short term goals. Remember that every great success is built at least twice, once in the mind and once in action. A third step should probably be added between mental conception and physical fruition, and that is a blueprint. In running, the amount of time spent planning with your coach is directly proportional to the amount of success you will achieve.
2. Hard work beats talent when talent hardly works.
One of my favorite stories is about the Greek strongman, Milo of Croton. As legend has it, he was able to lift a 4 year old bull over his head. This type of strength seems superhuman but he started lifting the animal as a newborn calf. He applied the same progressive overload principles that Run SMART coaches use but instead of running every day, he lifted the calf every day. As the calf grew bigger he grew stronger and four years later he was able to carry a fully grown bull. What will you be able to do in four years?? Start today with big things in mind.
If another mantra helps hammer this point home – Be better tomorrow than you were yesterday. This applies to you whether you’re the best runner in the world, just starting in the sport or even you’re currently battling an injury.
3. Success isn’t meaningful if the process isn’t enjoyable. HAVE FUN!!!
This one is the most important of all. If Milo didn’t enjoy lifting that bull, it would have been a very long four years. If you don’t enjoy running, training and improving yourself to reach your athletic potential, then the rest is meaningless and success will prove unattainable. Without joy the best laid plans will be useless; run for yourself and make the process worthwhile. You don’t have to love every step but you have to love what you’re doing. Make it fun and take advantage of the opportunities ahead. In the real world, outside of running, you will get few cheers and little applause; enjoy your time in the spotlight.
That may have been a bit too much for the 20 minutes that I was asked to speak to a group of middle school and high school athletes but I sincerely believe that these three principles are foundational in our sport. After recognizing and obeying these rules you’ll be well on your way toward improving your 5k time or qualifying for Boston or accomplishing whatever it is that puts you on the road on the monotonous and dreary days.