Coach Mike Mead

September 2011

Running Makes a Difference

This month’s column is somewhat special for me since it marks my 100th writing for! That is more than eight years of numerous running topics that I hope you regular readers have got a nugget or two from these writings. This column has lasted longer than most TV shows and unfortunately a lot of marriages!

The challenge for writing a column like this is to bring something fresh about running. Let’s face it there are only so many running issues that can be covered before it begins to become repetitive. Perhaps seeing a particular subject from a different prospective may shed new light on it.

One theme that I’ve tried to deliver is there really is no substitute to running. During my time of pounding the pavement, I get the feeling that more and more runners are looking for a shortcut to getting faster. It is not about the shoes, the cross-training, gimmicky running aids, the food you eat or the clothes you wear to run in. What really matters is the heart and head of the runner that will determine their success.

If you want to become a serious distance runner, you have to run almost daily, period. You have to get out and run when it is hot, cold, wet, windy, muddy and snowy. But you have to use your head (common sense) when it comes to the extreme conditions and when your body may be beat or you are ailing.

And it takes running many miles over the course of several years before you can actually see your investment pay off. Last month I read biographies of Jim Ryun and Ryan Hall; two runners from different eras and different specialties. Ryun, the first high school runner to break 4:00 in the mile, focused more on the 880 and mile while Hall was more of a distance specialist above 5,000m. But the common denominator with them is they put in the mileage, like 100-mile weeks! Ryun went on to set the world records in the 880 yards and mile (in that order) while Hall set the American record in the half marathon.

It takes discipline to get up every day to run. Heck, it takes discipline just to get up out of bed unless you have the heart and head of a runner. Getting up early or going to bed early shouldn’t bother a real runner. It comes with the territory. The non-runners, or as I call them pedestrians, cannot comprehend how runners can do what we do. There have been times that I’ve asked myself the very question, “Why am I still doing this?”

It’s about living life to the fullest. I find it sad that some people live life in the so-called “fast lane” which is more like “emergency lane” living to me! Do what you please. Live hard, drink hard. Abuse your body and your mind, it don’t matter, but what about quality of life? I very seldom wake up dreading the day or the run ahead. Hard living results in many days of dread, at least the ones you remember.

I’ve always felt that running helps enhances life’s experiences more so than stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, or drugs. I do not need two cups of coffee or a few drags on a cigarette to get me going in the morning. A good run does it for me! What about you?

Running is not the cure all as I found out three years ago with prostate cancer. But if you have a weight problem, running can be a cure. There are many health issues that are escalating because people are not using their two feet like they use to and are paying for it with poorer quality of life.

I hope these columns that I have written have made a difference for you in some way. I don’t know if I have another 100 writings in me, but I’ll give it my best shot. Enjoy!